Harper Facing New Charges for 2013 Kidnapping of 89-Year Old Wom - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Harper Facing New Charges for 2013 Kidnapping of 89-Year Old Woman

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Rondaiges Harper, is now facing new charges for "unlawful imprisonment" after his Conviction was Vacated Rondaiges Harper, is now facing new charges for "unlawful imprisonment" after his Conviction was Vacated
Margaret Smith was left in the trunk of her car for two days in March, 2013 Margaret Smith was left in the trunk of her car for two days in March, 2013

GEORGETOWN, Del. - The lengthy judicial roller coast continues, in the case against one of the teenagers previously convicted of stuffing an 89-year-old woman into the trunk of her own car. Rondaiges Harper, who was 17-years-old a the time of the kidnapping, was in court Friday morning, facing new charges of "unlawful imprisonment" and "conspiracy." This indictment comes just weeks after his initial conviction was vacated in a Supreme Court decision. 

The legal saga began in March, 2013 when WBOC first reported the story of Margaret Smith. At the time, Smith was 89-years old, when she was robbed, stuffed in the trunk of her own car, and left there for two days before she was dumped in a Seaford Cemetery. Remarkably, Smith survived the ordeal, and testified in court about what happened. 

Four teenagers were responsible for the kidnapping, according to police. That included Harper, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison for both carjacking and kidnapping charges in July, 2014.

After a little more than two years in prison, Harper was released in early August, following a Supreme Court decision. The judge found that Harper could not be held responsible for carjacking charges, since he was not there for the initial stealing of the car. The court found that carjacking was not a "continued offense," as argued by state prosecutors. 

According to court testimony, 14-year old Junia McDonald and 15-year old Jackeline Perez were the two teenagers that did that actual carjacking, placing Smith in the trunk. They then picked up Harper along with Phillip Brewer, another 17-year old teenager. 

"His faith in the judicial system has been maintained," said defense attorney John Brady. "By the Supreme Court ruling of two weeks ago." 

Harper's new charges of "Unlawful Imprisonment" and "Conspiracy," combine for a maximum of four years in prison. But Brady said he will motion to dismiss these charges, under the principal of Double Jeopardy.

Brady said that the jury in the first trial had the option to reduce the kidnapping charge to "unlawful imprisonment," the current charge. For that reason, he said this could be considered Double Jeopardy - a legal term defining it as illegal to charge a defendant for the same offense twice.

"The double jeopardy argument will be presented in a motion," Brady said. "As you recall in the trial, the jury had to consider kidnapping and one of the lesser offenses that the jury was given was unlawful imprisonment." 

The next case review will be on Oct. 5, in front of a new judge. Brady said he will be filing for this motion at that case review.

Harper has already served more than two years and three months in prison. That will count as time-served for any further sentencing. Harper was released on an "unsecured" bond, which means he will await trial as a free man, so long as he shows up for all court hearings.

In September of 2014, Junia McDonald, 14-years old at the time of the incident, was sentenced to 16 years in prison for both carjacking and kidnapping charges. 

In December of 2014, Jackeline Perez, 15-years old at the time of the incident, was sentenced to 16 years in prison as well. She will also be deported to Mexico when she is released.

Later that month, Phillip Brewer, 17-years old at the time of the incident, was the last to be sentenced, facing 12 years in prison, after testifying against the other three defendants. 

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