A man who threw his 3-month-old daughter off the Garden State Parkway bridge into the cold Raritan River seven years ago will continue to live out his life behind bars.

Shamsiddin Abdur-Raheem is serving life in prison plus 30 years for the kidnapping and slaying of his infant daughter, Zara Malani-Lin Abdur-Raheem. On Tuesday, he lost his latest appeal.

On Feb. 16, 2010, Abdur-Raheem, who had been restricted from seeing his daughter, took her from her grandmother’s East Orange house, drove south and threw the baby off the towering Alfred E. Driscoll Bridge. Her remains were found two months later.

Abdur-Raheem, 24 at the time, also drove over the child’s grandmother, seriously injuring her.

It’s never been clear why Abdur-Raheem killed his daughter. He told police, and testified in his own trial in 2012, that he did not know why he threw the girl off the bridge. But he did say that he believed that she was already dead from the struggle at the grandmother’s house.

A forensic pathologist, however, testified that the girl died from "drowning and blunt force trauma to the head" consistent with a long drop into a body of water.

A three-judge appellate panel on Tuesday rejected Abdur-Raheem’s argument that the police's questioning of him was “egregiously coercive.”

The appellate panel also rejected his argument that his statements to his imam and to police in front of his imam should have been inadmissible because of cleric-penitent privilege.

Both the trial judge and the appellate panel noted that neither he nor his imam expected their conversation to remain confidential because the imam repeated it to the defendant’s parents, who called police. Abdur-Raheem also volunteered his statement to police.

The decision noted that he “did not seek absolution from the imam or engage in prayer. He went to [the imam] ‘for support and help in a time of great trouble,’ rather than to seek spiritual guidance.”

The appellate decision also says police stopped interrogating him whenever he “invoked his right to remain silent.”

They also rejected his contention that he should not have been charged with kidnapping because he was the child’s father. The judges pointed out that the kidnapping law applies to any case where a child is removed by force.

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email sergio.bichao@townsquaremedia.com.

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