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State v. Harper

Superior Court of Delaware, Sussex

March 31, 2014

STATE OF DELAWARE
v.
RONDAIGES A. HARPER, Defendant.

Date Submitted: August 22, 2013

John F. Brady, Esq., Murray Law LLC, Attorney for Defendant

Melanie C. Withers, Esq. and Casey L. Ewart, Esq., Delaware Department of Justice, Attorneys for the State

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Richard F. Stokes, Judge

Defendant Rondaiges Harper ("Harper"), who was 17-years-old at the time of the charged crimes, will be tried as an adult in this Court. His application to transfer his case from this Court to the Family Court pursuant to 10 Del.C. § 1011(b) is DENIED.

In April 2013, Harper was charged with Kidnapping in the First Degree, a class B felony, Carjacking in the First Degree, a class B felony, and two counts of Conspiracy in the Second Degree, class G felonies. He is currently incarcerated at the Stevenson House, a juvenile residence.

Facts

Facts and Circumstances Hearing

A Facts and Circumstances hearing was held in this Court on July 18, 2013. The evidence presented pertained to the involvement of Defendants Harper, [2] Phillip Brewer ("Brewer"), [3] Jackeline Perez ("Perez")[4] and Junia McDonald ("McDonald")[5]in the charged crimes.[6] Harper, Perez, and McDonald were all present at this hearing. The following facts were taken from that hearing and are common to all three defendants.

Margaret Smith ("Mrs. Smith") is an 89-year-old widow living in her own home in Milford, Delaware. At the fact hearing, Mrs. Smith gave a full rendition of the criminal incident. Although she was sometimes forgetful or confused about incidentals, she provided a consistent version of the material facts.

On March 18, 2013, at about 2:00 p.m., Mrs. Smith left her home to get an ice cream cone and buy a gift for her sister. Mrs. Smith carried some money in her purse, and a larger amount rolled up and pinned to the strap of her brasier. As she sat in her 2001 tan Buick Le Sabre at a convenience store called the Chicken Man, two female juveniles, later identified as Perez and McDonald, approached her car. They tapped on the driver's side window and asked Mrs. Smith if she would take them home. At the fact hearing, Mrs. Smith referred to the girls as "teenagers, " stating that one was white and one was black, and that one was shorter and stockier than the other. Mrs. Smith did not observe any other physical traits.

At first Mrs. Smith hesitated, but then agreed to give the girls a ride home. One juvenile got in the front passenger seat, and the other in the back. Mrs. Smith assumed that the juveniles lived in Milford; but they directed her to a residence farther away. Upon arriving at that residence, Mrs. Smith was told that the mother was not home and was asked to go to a second residence. Once there, Mrs. Smith was told that the aunt was not home.

The juveniles directed Mrs. Smith to a third residence where they asked for her keys. Mrs. Smith adamantly refused. Both juveniles then grabbed her while she struggled to remain in the car. Mrs. Smith was yanked out of the car, resisting until the three were at the rear of the Buick. The shorter juvenile wrestled the keys from Mrs. Smith and the trunk door was opened. Mrs. Smith was then shoved inside the trunk, and the trunk door slammed. The juveniles then got back in the car and, with the shorter juvenile driving, took off at a fast pace. Mrs. Smith hollered and knocked on the back of the trunk but received no response. Perhaps this could have been, in part, because the car's radio was playing at full volume. According to Mrs. Smith, while in the trunk, she received no food or water and was given no bathroom breaks. She also was not given the medication she took for high blood pressure or arthritis, which she carried with her.

During this episode, the two juveniles also took $500 in cash from Mrs. Smith. They went to the Walmart to buy clothes and may have given some of the money to two male juveniles to buy a new battery for the car. That evening, the juveniles used stolen money to book a room at the Days Inn in Seaford, Delaware. Mrs. Smith spent the night in the trunk of her car. In the morning, she was taken to a cemetery and dumped out, along with her cane and a black Ace Hardware bag of prescription medications.

Having wet herself in the trunk, Mrs. Smith apparently removed her pants and left them on the ground. She crawled around the cemetery looking for a road. The surface of the cemetery being part dirt and part grass, Mrs. Smith scraped her knees, but attained no other observable injuries. The cold temperatures caused numbness in her hands and feet, which is not yet resolved.

At approximately 9:00 p.m. on March 19, 2013, Trooper John Wilson ("Trooper Wilson"), a member of the Delaware State Police Department ("DSPD"), received a missing person call. A woman who identified herself as Sabrina Carol ("Ms. Carol") said that she had not seen her elderly aunt, Margaret Smith, since 2:00 p.m. the previous day. Ms. Carol went to her aunt's house, but neither she nor her purse were there. The family was concerned because Mrs. Smith showed early signs of either Alzheimer's Disease or some form of dementia. The previous day, a neighbor saw Mrs. Smith putting things in her car at approximately 11:00 a.m., and drive away about an hour later. Mrs. Smith's sister spoke to her on the phone at about 2:00 p.m. the previous day. Mrs. Smith was thought to be driving her tan 2001 Buick Le Sabre. Ms. Carol stated that her aunt often went to Milford to shop and to Rehoboth Beach to visit her sister.

Trooper Wilson entered Mrs. Smith's identification information into the national data base for missing persons and issued a Gold Alert which lists missing persons with ...


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