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Jedele faces capital murder charge

WINTON – The man accused of killing Donald Bradley Smithwick of Ahoskie will face death if convicted on capital murder charges.

According to Hertford County judicial documents, a Rule 24 motion is on the record in Superior Court. That motion declares the case against Raymond Christian Jedele as capital murder, meaning he faces the death penalty upon conviction.

In November, the Hertford County Grand Jury returned true bills of indictment for first degree murder against Jedele, 38 of Kill Devil Hills. Jedele was also indicted on the charges of first degree kidnapping and robbery with a dangerous weapon.

The Grand Jury also charged Janet Denise Harrell, 33 of Edenton, in the same case. She was indicted with being an accessory after the fact on the identical charges lodged against Jedele.

No trial date has been set for either Jedele or Harrell. Both remain incarcerated; Jedele under no bond at Central Prison in Raleigh and Harrell under a $3 million cash bond at the Hertford County Jail.

Smithwick, 33 at the time of his death, was kidnapped shortly before 6 a.m. on Oct. 4 as he left for work from his Ahoskie home on Colony Ave. There, a lone suspect, believed to be Jedele, allegedly used a taser weapon to subdue, bound and kidnap Smithwick. Blood was found in Smithwick’s driveway and in the cab of his pick-up truck (discovered abandoned a few blocks away from his home).

Upon his disappearance, hundreds of law enforcement officers and search and rescue personnel from several different agencies scoured the area of the Eden House Bridge (US 17) spanning the Chowan River between Bertie and Chowan counties. It was on that bridge where Jedele was involved in a vehicle accident shortly past 7 a.m. on Oct. 4.

Smithwick’s body was found by a North Carolina Wildlife Officer near Edenton on the morning of Tuesday, Oct. 9.

Jedele was employed as an officer with the Kitty Hawk Police Department at the time of his arrest on Oct. 4. He was originally charged with first-degree kidnapping.

Harrell, Smithwick’s ex-wife, was arrested one day later on the charge of being an accessory to first-degree kidnapping.

It was reported in Hertford County District Court on Oct. 5 during Jedele’s first appearance that Harrell and Smithwick were locked in a custody battle over their two children. Apparently, Smithwick won that battle and, according to several sources, was scheduled to be at the Chowan County Courthouse in Edenton on Oct. 5 to officially sign the custody paperwork. Additionally, it was reported that Harrell and Jedele were friends.