Newark man convicted of role in 2008 kidnapping, robbery, murder of Somerset County woman

A Union County jury has convicted a Newark man of being responsible for the 2008 kidnapping, robbery, and murder of a Somerset County woman, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced Wednesday.

The jury deliberated over the course of two days following a six-week trial that concluded with Rashawn Bond, 37, being found guilty of first-degree felony murder, first-degree kidnapping, and second-degree robbery in connection with the death of 35-year-old Tanya Worthy of Green Brook.

The date was October 29, 2008 when Bond, an acquaintance of Worthy, invited her to his home, according to Union County Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor Ann M. Luvera, who prosecuted the case.

The invitation was a setup. Shortly after Worthy arrived, several associates of Bond – including Sharif Torres, 25, of Philadelphia, Robert Harris, 30, of Philadelphia, and Jamel Lewis, 35, of Newark – rushed into the home in what later was found to have been a staged robbery, Luvera said.

Two of the three men then allegedly transported Worthy to her home in Green Brook, where the defendants believed large quantities of cash were stashed away in a safe. But Worthy’s boyfriend foiled an attempted robbery there when he rushed back into the house upon spotting one of the men brandishing a handgun.

The defendants allegedly left the home in Worthy’s BMW and later shot her to death at an undetermined location, according to Luvera. They subsequently drove the car to a secluded section of Elizabeth, where they set it on fire with Worthy’s body inside, she said.

An intensive yearlong investigation by the then-newly formed Union County Homicide Task Force resulted in the identification of Bond, Torres, Harris, and Lewis as suspects, and they all were arrested in December 2009. Assisting in the arrests and investigation were the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Marshals, Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office, Green Brook Police Department, Elizabeth Police Department, and Elizabeth Fire Department.

Torres, Harris, and Lewis are awaiting trial, charged with the same offenses Bond was convicted of plus an additional count of first-degree robbery, first-degree aggravated arson, and two second-degree weapons offenses.

Bond is expected to face 30 years to life in prison upon sentencing, which is scheduled for July 18 before state Superior Court Judge Joseph P. Donohue, who presided over the trial. Bond’s co-defendants are expected to face the same terms if convicted at trial.