Carjacking Definition Could Lead To Appeal In Harper Trial - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Carjacking Definition Could Lead To Appeal In Harper Trial

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Rondaiges Harper Rondaiges Harper

GEORGETOWN, Del. - What is carjacking? It's a question brought up in court Thursday before a jury found Rondaiges Harper guilty of kidnapping and carjacking an elderly Delaware woman.

The Bridgeville teen may be spending more than 60 years behind bars.

Defense attorney John Brady, Harper's attorney, spoke with 47 ABC after the verdict Thursday night.

"After sentencing, which should take place in about six weeks, then the appeal process will begin," said Brady.

The key debate going forward: can someone be found guilty of carjacking even if they didn't actually stealing the vehicle? Delaware law states that first degree carjacking is when someone "knowingly and unlawfully takes possession or control of a motor vehicle from another person." It's only part of the law.

"Once that act is complete, whether you handcuff the individual, kick them out on the street or throw them in the trunk, the crime of carjacking is ended," said Wilmington-based attorney Joe Hurley, who recently represented Sussex County clients Eric Bodenweiser and Melvin Morse.

In court, already convicted felon Phillip Brewer testified he and three other teens used Margaret's Smith's car, but only two of them, Junia McDonald and Jackeline Perez, reportedly took the keys from the then-89-year-old.

Brewer claimed he and Harper spoke to Smith and knew it was her car. The state brought the carjacking charge and, later, a Sussex County judge allowed it using a ruling from a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit case, which states that carjacking can continue after the initial crime.

Hurley doesn't agree.

"If [the suspects] show up after the fact and it's already a done deal, crime over," said Hurley. "They can't be guilty if the crime is fully committed."

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