Oak Bluffs man pleads not guilty to carjacking

Jermaine Sharpe was arraigned on a charge of carjacking in superior court Wednesday. His attorney Robert Moriarty argues against higher bail. - Rich Saltzberg

Jermaine Sharpe was arraigned before Judge Robert Rufo Wednesday in Dukes County Superior Court on charges of carjacking, unarmed robbery, assault with a dangerous weapon, and vandalism. The charges stem from a July 25 incident, when Sharpe allegedly flagged down someone for a ride and allegedly assaulted the driver, threatened the man with a machete, and stole his vehicle. He pleaded not guilty.

Cape and Islands Assistant District Attorney Jessica Croker told Rufo the victim pulled over and told Sharpe, after learning where Sharpe wanted to go, that he could not offer a ride because he was going in another direction. The charges Sharpe faces elevated from the district court to the superior court after a Dukes County grand jury indicted him on Oct. 16. 

“Without warning Sharpe began punching him in the head,” Croker said. Sharpe then, Croker alleged, tried to pull the man from the vehicle by his hair. Failing at that, Croker said, Sharpe went to the back of the man’s vehicle, a pickup, and found a landscaping machete, with which he threatened the victim. Subsequently, Sharpe made off with the man’s pickup truck. Croker said a state trooper later found Sharpe in the victim’s vehicle, but the machete was never recovered. According to Croker, Sharpe also vandalized a taxi. Croker said Sharpe could face penalties of up to life in prison if found guilty, and requested $5,000 in bail.

Defense attorney Robert Moriarty requested bail be limited to $500, based on other bail amounts already posted and other factors. As to the prosecutor’s description of the facts, Moriarty said, “I differ strongly.”

Moriarty alleged the motorist and Sharpe had an argument in the middle of the street that resulted in the man chasing Sharpe with the machete. He further alleged Sharpe fled in the truck to escape the man with the machete. Moriarty said his client’s actions did not constitute carjacking. 

Rufo allowed bail to be set at $500. But he warned Moriarty that if his client violated any of his bail conditions, bail would become “much greater than $500.” 

Rufo told Croker and Probation Officer Douglas Mackie that if probation violations or conditions-of-release violations crop up, the commonwealth is free to notify, and “I will deal with it immediately.”

Rufo set a pretrial hearing for Jan. 17 in Barnstable Superior Court.