Juror Misconduct Inquiry Underway in Rape Case of Nicki Minaj’s Brother
Last November, Nicki Minaj's brother, Jelani Maraj, was found guilty of predatory sexual assault against a child and endangering the welfare of a child. Now, just about a year later, a judge for the case has ordered an inquiry after Maraj's defense aired their suspicion of jury misconduct. This claim led State Supreme Court Justice Robert McDonald to schedule an inquiry hearing for Nov. 15.
According to Newsday, Maraj's lawyers, who defended him against accusations that he'd raped his underage step daughter, believe that jurors for the case had taken part in some inappropriate behavior.
An affidavit from one alternate juror, one juror said that if Nicki Minaj didn't testify during the course of her brother's trial then Maraj was guilty. In that juror's affidavit, which was submitted by Maraj's attorney, David Schwartz, it's claimed that some jurors had already voiced their belief that Maraj was guilty in the early parts of the trial. By speaking on the case at all, they had apparently gone against Judge McDonald's instructions.
“There is a need for the Court to conduct a hearing to determine the nature of the material placed before the jury and whether that material created a substantial risk of prejudice to the defendant,” McDonald wrote in a ruling he issued Oct. 18.
Adding to the defense's case to launch an inquiry is the claim of a "courtroom observer." According to an affidavit submitted by the observer—this one was also submitted by Maraj's defense—jurors had talked to them after the case. Some of the things they'd allegedly talked about with the observer was the act of watching an episode of The Wendy Williams Show. In this particular episode, the observer says, Williams said Maraj was guilty. Judge McDonald calls these allegations "Hearsay."
Maraj's defense has also pointed toward some perceived misconduct by the prosecution, but Judge McDonald ruled that that didn't affect the outcome of the case, as there was more than enough legal evidence to point toward Maraj's guilt.
Maraj was originally sentenced last year after being brought to trial for the rape of his step daughter, who was 11 at the time she claimed the abuse had taken place. She was 14 when she testified against him in court last year. His lawyers tried to vacate the sentence earlier this year, but a judge didn't rule in their favor. Maraj faces life in prison.
Nicki, who visited her brother with their mother shortly after the verdict was reached last fall, has yet to speak on this matter.
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