Carjacking penalty still undecided, Hymes says

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

Howard County State's Attorney William R. Hymes said yesterday 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 had filed notices on Tuesday that they will seek sentences of life without parole if they win convictions against the defend

ants, Mr. Soloman, 26, and Bernard Eric Miller, 16. The Miller youth has been charged as an adult in the case, but state law bars prosecutors from seeking the death penalty for juveniles.

Mr. Soloman and the Miller youth 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 two assailants forced her from her car Sept. 8 and then drove off with her entangled 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."

To make a decision earlier "gives the defense opportunity to ask that the notice [of an intention to ask for the death penalty] be withdrawn," he said. "Some things can come up that would add to the mitigating factors. That's why we don't make decisions [on the death penalty] till the very last minute."

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