State undecided on seeking death in carjacking

November 19, 1992|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff Writer

Howard County State's Attorney William R. Hymes said yesterday that he has not decided whether to seek the death penalty against one of the men charged in the carjacking death of a Savage woman in September.

"I have not made a decision and will not do so till 30 days before the trial [of Rodney Eugene Soloman]," Mr. Hymes said, criticizing an article that appeared in The Sun yesterday.

"As a public official, I can forgive anything but misrepresentation," Mr. Hymes said. "And that's absolutely what this is about."

Prosecutors filed notices Tuesday that they will seek sentences of life without parole if they win convictions against the defendants, Mr. Soloman, 26, and Bernard Eric Miller, 16. The Miller youth has been charged as an adult, but state law bars prosecutors from seeking the death penalty for juveniles.

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

Mr. Hymes said a false impression was created by an article headlined, "Prosecutors won't seek death in carjacking."

"This misrepresents our office and my position to the general public," he said. That misrepresentation continued, Mr. Hymes said, in the opening paragraph of the article, which said prosecutors would not seek the death penalty. Another sentence in the article said Mr. Hymes may reconsider seeking the death penalty. "To reconsider means I have taken a position," Mr. Hymes said. "For a lot of reasons, we do not make a decision -- ever -- till all the facts are known -- usually six to eight weeks before trial."

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