Cape Gazette
http://capegazette.villagesoup.com/p/1198645

Trial set for teen accused in 2013 carjacking

Harper, 19, rejects plea offer; case begins June 23
By Ryan Mavity | Jun 17, 2014
Photo by: File Rondaiges Harper, 19, has rejected the state's final plea offer and has elected to have a jury trial on charges of conspiracy, kidnapping and carjacking 89-year-old Margaret Smith in March 2013. Jury selection in Harper's trial will begin Thursday, June 19.

Georgetown — The trial of the first of three teenagers accused of kidnapping and carjacking an elderly Slaughter Neck woman and locking her in the trunk of her car in March 2013 is set to begin Monday, June 23.

Rondaiges Harper, 19, rejected a final state plea offer and has requested a jury trial.

Harper’s attorney, John Brady, said jury selection will begin in Delaware Superior Court in Georgetown Thursday, June 19, with Judge Richard Stokes presiding.

Delaware State Police said that on March 18, 2013, Junia McDonald, 15, and Jackeline Perez, 16, hitched a ride with then 89-year-old Margaret Smith before stealing her car keys, robbing her of $500 and locking her in the trunk of her 1991 Buick Le Sabre.

Police said Philip Brewer, 19, and Harper later joined the girls, and all four spent the night at a Seaford hotel, with Smith still locked in the trunk. Two days after abducting her, the teens dumped a Smith in a graveyard, where she was found, disoriented, by a passerby. Brewer later testified that Perez proposed burning the car with Smith inside. Smith was hospitalized but recovered from the ordeal.

Attorneys for Harper, Perez and McDonald tried to have them tried as juveniles, but Stokes ruled that the severity of the crime warranted trying the teens as adults.

In his ruling, Stokes said Perez and McDonald were capable of terrible depravity and showed a total disregard for Smith’s safety. He also found that they knew what they were doing.

While Harper was not part of the original kidnapping, Stokes said he was aware of Smith being locked in the trunk and did nothing to help.

Brewer pleaded guilty to second-degree carjacking, four counts of second-degree conspiracy and three counts of second-degree kidnapping. Brewer has agreed to testify against Harper, Perez and McDonald.

The three teens are being tried separately, with McDonald scheduled for trial Monday, Aug. 11, and Perez scheduled Monday, Oct. 13.

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