A Long Island jury is still deliberating the fate of rapper Nicki Minaj’s older brother, Jelani Maraj, who is accused of raping his 11-year-old stepdaughter in 2015.
The panel of four women and eight men began deliberations on Wednesday. But an alternate juror who was relieved of service on Wednesday said he would have acquitted Maraj due to lack of evidence.
“I really do think he did something to her, but based on the evidence I just can’t convict him,” Labau, a custodian, said outside the courthouse in Mineola.
Maraj, 39, was arrested on December 1, 2015 and charged with repeatedly raping the then 11-year-old daughter of his wife of 5 months, Jacqueline Robinson.
The now 14-year-old teen took the witness stand and testified against her former stepfather. DNA evidence linking Maraj to the little girl’s pajama bottom. Robinson also took the stand to say Maraj molested her daughter.
In her closing arguments on Monday, Nassau Assistant District Attorney Emma Slane urged the jury to believe the girl’s story.
But defense attorney David Schwartz said the girl and the mother conspired to “shake down” Maraj’s younger sister, Nicki, for $25 million.
Alternate juror Labau told a reporter he didn’t believe the defense’s allegations of extortion but he also didn’t trust the victim’s testimony.
“I felt like her testimony seemed way too staged,” he said. “I was looking for more emotion, more crying. I wanted to believe everything she was saying, but it was just too much.”
The jury is in the second day of deliberations.
Maraj faces 15 years to life in prison if convicted.