Newark man sentenced to life for kidnapping, robbery, murder of Somerset County woman

A Newark man has been sentenced to life in prison for his role in the 2008 kidnapping, robbery, and murder of a Somerset County woman, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced Thursday.

Rashawn Bond, 38, was sentenced late Thursday afternoon by state Superior Court Judge Joseph P. Donohue.

In May a Union County jury deliberated over the course of two days following a six-week trial that concluded with convictions on charges of first-degree felony murder, first-degree kidnapping, and second-degree robbery filed in connection with the death of 35-year-old Tanya Worthy of Green Brook.

The date was October 28, 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 of Philadelphia, Robert Harris of Philadelphia, and Jamel Lewis 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.

“I don’t think in all of my years as an assistant prosecutor … I have ever seen a more heinous act than the one in this case,” Luvera said in court Thursday, when six members of Worthy’s family also had statements read into the record.

Both Luvera and the family members requested that Donohue impose the maximum allowable penalty.

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 lesser related offenses.