The prosecution and the defense presented closing arguments to the jury at Nassau County Court Monday in the trial of Jelani Maraj, who allegedly raped his stepdaughter when she was 11 years old.
Defense attorney David Schwartz, over more than two hours, hammered home his theory that the girl, now 14, and her mother concocted the allegations to extort $ 25 million from Maraj’s rap star sister Nicki Minaj.
Mom Jacqueline Robinson planned a Godfather-like “shakedown,” Schwartz claimed.
“There are 25 million reasons why these people (have lied),” he said.
“Jacqui needed the marriage first … before breaking out her master plan … before taking all of Nicki Minaj’s money,” he said. “It only took (her) four months to unleash hell on this family.”
There was enough reasonable doubt to acquit Maraj entirely, the lawyer argued.
The crime scene was contaminated, he added, taking special aim at the prosecution’s DNA evidence.
He noted that the girl’s purple pajama pants with seminal fluid on them had been placed on the bed by the girl and her mother.
Nicki Minaj celebrating the wedding of her brother, Jelani Maraj (left) on August 2015.
Schwartz also stressed that the fluid found on the pants couldn’t conclusively be linked to Maraj.
“It’s about money and it’s about revenge against the family, the Maraj family,” he said.
Prosecutor Emma Slane took far less time to sum up the arguments from her point of view.
“[The victim] herself told you everything you need to know to find the defendant guilty,” Slane said.
“She described oral sex, she described vaginal sex, she described anal sex,” she said. “Through her testimony alone you know the defendant is guilty.”
Slane asked the jury why the girl would give up a home in Baldwin and a family unit for a “basement apartment” and “a sectional sofa” where she lives now.
“All of this in the name of a lie?” she asked, before urging the jury to find 38-year-old Maraj guilty.