The verdict in the trial of Jelani Maraj capped a sordid three-week Nassau County Court prosecution rife with horrific testimony from the shaken accuser about the unrelenting abuse.
The jury deliberated over two days before returning its verdicts. A stoic Maraj showed zero emotion as he was convicted of predatory sexual assault against a child and endangering the welfare of a child.
He faces 15 years to life in prison on the sexual assault conviction.
Nicki Minaj’s brother repeatedly raped me for months and ‘called me his puppet’ – teary teen stepdaughter testifies
Jelani Miraj works for his younger sister, award-winning rap star Nicki Minaj, [right]
The accuser, now 14, girl testified that Maraj, 38, anally raped her at one point, slapped her in the face and ordered her to remain mute about his actions.
Her kid brother testified about accidentally stumbling upon Maraj as he was sexually assaulting the girl.
Juror Arthur Naclerio, said listening to their stories was difficult: “What (the victim) went through all that time,” he said.
“Thinking that if it was a lie, how could she keep it up that long at that age?”
He added that it was “not that hard” for the jury of eight men and four women to reach its verdict.
Giving closing arguments Miraj’s defense team led by David Schwartz, insisted that the girl, now 14, and her mother concocted the allegations to extort $25 million from his client’s, sister Nicki Minaj.
The victim’s 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 [Robinson] four months to unleash hell on this family.”
Nicki Minaj [left], victim’s mother Jacqueline Robinson [center], and her now ex-husband Jelani Maraj in 2014. The abuse was uncovered just four months after their wedding which was financed by the rapper
There was enough reasonable doubt to acquit Maraj entirely, the lawyer argued.
The crime scene was contaminated Schwartz contended, in reference to the prosecution’s DNA evidence.
The court had been riveted when the now 14-year-old girl victim herself, testified in graphic detail, that her stepdad, Jelani Miraj, called her his “puppet,” and repeatedly raped her for months. She was just 11 at the time:
“He would call me his puppet and told me I had no say in what he did to me,” the girl testified, saying Maraj, 38, sexually attacked her multiple times, during an emotion laden testimony.
The molestation happened when the relationship between Maraj and the victim’s mother, Jacqueline Robinson, went south, The first sexual assault occurred in April 2015, just fourth months before Robinson married Maraj in $30,000 celebration where Minaj picked up the tab.
During the trial a prosecution witness testified that semen found on the accuser’s pajama bottoms was a one-in-291 billion match with defendant Maraj.
Defense attorney David Schwartz, in his closing argument, accused Maraj’s now ex-wife of planting the DNA.
“It’s all about money and it’s all about revenge,” he told the jury, an argument which Assistant District Attorney Emma Slane, described as “Absolute absurdity,” in closing.
Maraj was arrested Dec. 1, 2015, on charges of predatory assault, second-degree course of sexual conduct and a misdemeanor charge of acting in a manner likely to injure a child.
Contrary to prior speculation neither Nicki Minaj nor her brother testified in the case.