KINGMAN – The 19-year-old North Las Vegas woman who was allegedly an accomplice in the May Uber carjacking had her bond reduced to $200,000 Tuesday, a fair amount based on the seriousness of the charges, Mohave County Superior Court Judge Billy Sipe said.
Raitasha Antoinette Williams-Gardner faces 12 felony counts including kidnapping, theft of means of transportation, aggravated assault, drive-by shooting, armed robbery and criminal damage.
Although her bond was reduced from $1 million, she remains in custody at Mohave County Jail.
Williams-Gardner was arrested May 26, along with Aveyon Lashawn Nevitt, 20, in connection with the Uber carjacking in Las Vegas that ended with the car running into a bus on Beale Street.
Williams-Gardner has been charged with some very serious offenses, but she was a victim in the crime as well in a “colorable” classic case of duress of necessity, defense attorney Robin Puchek argued in court.
The defense of necessity applies when a defendant is forced by natural circumstances to choose between two evils, and the criminal act is the lesser evil.
“The state wants to portray them as a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde,” Puckek said. But he made statements that tended to distance his client from her co-defendant, including that he was not her boyfriend, she had no prior offenses and was not on drugs.
Puchek pointed out Williams-Gardner’s grandparents in the courtroom and told the judge they would be responsible for driving her back and forth to Kingman for further court hearings.
Going from $1 million to release from custody on her own recognizance is “admittedly a stretch,” Puchek acknowledged, but the grandparents would be posting the bond and are of limited financial ability.
Sipe said everyone would probably agree that $1 million bond is an excessive amount, typically set for first-degree murder charges, and people want him to set high bonds to make sure that person stays in jail until justice is served.
“I’m tasked with what release conditions are appropriate to make sure they come back,” Sipe said, citing the Eighth Amendment that prohibits the courts from imposing excessive bail and fines. “I’m certain that he (Nevitt) was the main defendant, but this involves a very serious and violent situation.”
The judge noted that the defendants had kidnapped the Uber driver and held her captive, pistol-whipped a passenger and stuck a gun against his head, shot a commercial vehicle and fled from law enforcement.
Donnelda Schuele, the Uber driver, read a statement in court that she fears for herself and her family from threats made by the suspects, and that Williams-Gardner played an active role in the crime by holding a gun to her head. She felt that Williams-Gardner would leave to avoid jail time if she were released on her own recognizance.
Sipe said it’s fairly clear that Williams-Gardner’s actions were less serious than her co-defendant, and ordered the $200,000 bond amount that’s necessary based on the seriousness of charges.
He ordered the next hearing for 8:30 a.m. July 16, with both defendants to appear in court.