One of the teen suspects arrested in connection with the abduction of 89-year-old Margaret E. Smith pleaded guilty and agreed to testify in future court proceedings regarding the incident that occurred back in March.
Phillip Brewer, 17, pleaded guilty to second-degree carjacking, second-degree kidnapping and second-degree conspiracy at Sussex County Courthouse in Georgetown on Sept. 5, with sentencing pending his cooperation as a witness in future hearings.
On March 20, Delaware State Police arrested Brewer, of Bridgeville, Rondaiges Harper, 17 of Bridgeville, Junia McDonald, 14 of Milford, Jackeline Perez, 15 of Milford, and Deniaya Smith, 15 of Bridgeville, in connection with the carjacking and kidnapping of Lincoln resident Margaret E. Smith two days earlier, said Delaware State Police spokesman Master Cpl. Gary Fournier.
McDonald and Perez, both of Milford, allegedly convinced Margaret E. Smith to give them a ride, demanded her keys and struggled with the victim when she refused to hand them over. Once the suspects gained possession of the keys, they ordered the victim out of the car and forced her into the trunk, Fournier said.
McDonald and Perez then left the victim in the trunk for two days, without food or water, and are also suspected of stealing $500 from the victim. The two female suspects then picked up Brewer, Harper and Deniaya Smith before leaving the victim in a cemetery east of Seaford, Fournier said.
Troopers conducting a traffic stop on Chaplains Chapel Road in Bridgeville arrested all five teenagers on March 20, Fournier said.
Brewer, who pleaded guilty to lesser charges in an agreement of cooperation with the state on Sept. 5, was originally charged with first-degree carjacking, first-degree kidnapping and first-degree conspiracy after he was arrested March. 20.
Brewer faces up to 22 years of incarceration if all charges are met with the maximum sentencing, regardless of his cooperation in future court proceedings, Judge Richard F. Stokes explained.
The plea came prior to a hearing at Sussex County Superior Courthouse in Georgetown regarding whether Jackeline Perez’s case will remain in Superior Court or be transferred to Family Court.
Witnesses called to the stand were questioned regarding Perez’s behavior in school, interactions with police officers, previous incidences of theft and cross-examined regarding the ability of Perez’s mother to communicate with authorizes concerning her daughters behavior.
Perez, of Milford, was 15 at the time of the incident. The hearing to decide whether she will be tried as an adult or a juvenile will continue in early October.
A hearing to decide whether McDonald will be tried as an adult or a juvenile is scheduled to begin Sept. 18.