Prosecutors won't seek death in carjacking State's attorney calls step 'normal' HOWARD COUNTY

November 18, 1992|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

Howard County prosecutors will not seek the death penalty against two men charged with the carjacking death of a Savage woman in September.

The prosecutors filed notices that they will seek sentences of life without parole if they win convictions against the defendants, Rodney Eugene Soloman, 26, and 16-year-old Bernard Eric Miller.

The notices were submitted during a hearing in Howard Circuit Court yesterday.

"This is just another step in the processing of the case," Howard State's Attorney William Hymes said. "It's not unusual . . . It's very normal."

State law prohibits prosecutors from seeking the death penalty for Mr. Miller because he is a juvenile, although he is charged as an adult.

Mr. Hymes added that prosecutors may reconsider seeking the death penalty for Mr. Soloman as they build evidence against him while preparing for his trial.

Prosecutors have until 30 days before a trial to notify defendants that they may face the death penalty if convicted, according to state law. Mr. Soloman and Mr. Miller are scheduled for trials on Feb. 22.

Defense attorneys said they are not surprised by the prosecution's decision to seek the life sentences.

"I had anticipated, with the filing of the indictment, they had wanted that [sentence]," said Laurack Bray, a Washington attorney for Mr. Miller.

Meanwhile, prosecutors withdrew a motion asking for a joint trial for the defendants.

Mr. Hymes said prosecutors decided to withdraw the request because of the complexity of the case. He added that his office wants to avoid introducing evidence against one defendant that could incriminate the other defendant and provide a basis for an appeal.

"We don't want to give the appellate courts any grounds to overturn a conviction," Mr. Hymes said.

Prosecutors initially wanted one trial for the men, saying in court documents that they planned to use the same evidence and witnesses against them.

Defense attorneys, however, argued that their clients would be "prejudiced" by evidence produced against the other defendant if there was one trial.

Mr. Soloman and Mr. Miller are charged with first-degree murder and 18 other counts in the death of Pam Basu, who was a chemist at W. R. Grace Co. in Columbia.

Dr. Basu was dragged to death after the defendants allegedly forced her from her car on Sept. 8 and then drove off with Dr. Basu entangled in a seat belt.

A police report filed in Circuit Court says Mr. Soloman was driving the car and Mr. Miller was a passenger. Mr. Miller's mother, Deborah Miller, said her son told her that he was forced to go along.

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