Jelani Maraj, the brother of rapper Nicki Minaj, has rejected a plea deal in his child rape case and has opted to have his moment in court.
Jelani Maraj will put his fate in a jury’s hands, rebuffing the Nassau County’s District Attorney’s plea deal of 15 years to life for predatory assault of a child, and instead deciding to go to trial.
Maraj trial move comes despite the state having evidence that his semen was found on his accuser’s clothes. The trial also means that his alleged 12-year-old victim may have to face Maraj in court and testify about what happened.
Prosecutors allege that Maraj repeatedly raped and sodomized his tween victim over a period of eight months in 2015, with the last rape occurring the day before his arrest in December 2015. He has pled not guilty, and Nicki Minaj put up two homes as collateral in order to keep her oldest brother out on bail.
Maraj has argued that the girl was indeed having sex, but with other men – not him.
Maraj’s new lawyer, David Schwartz, told BOSSIP that Maraj is innocent and that the truth would prevail.
“He is choosing to go to trial because he is not guilty of these allegations and has faith in our system of justice,” Schwartz told us via email.
Pre-trial hearings will begin in less than two weeks. If convicted, he faces life in state prison.
Jelani seems to have employed a scattershot legal strategy in recent months. He fired his white shoe law firm, Brafman and Associates, in November, hired a private detective and got Schwartz, his new lawyer, who specializes in sex crime cases. Maraj’s rap star sister – who paid for his $30,000 wedding – is believed to also be bankrolling his defense.
A spokesman for the District Attorney declined to comment.