Teen-ager charged in fatal carjacking seeks change of venue

December 01, 1992|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

A Washington teen-ager charged in the carjacking death of a Savage woman in September is asking that his case be moved to Prince George's County so that he can receive a "fair and impartial" trial.

An attorney for 17-year-old Bernard Eric Miller said the request was submitted because of the outcry by Howard residents that followed the slaying of Pam Basu, who was dragged to her death after thieves forced her from her car Sept. 8.

Mr. Miller is one of two men first-degree murder and 18 other charges in the slaying. He is scheduled for a Howard Circuit Court trial Feb. 22.

Carol Hanson, the county's chief public defender, declined to say whether her office would file a similar request for Rodney Eugene Soloman, a 26-year-old Washington resident charged as a co-defendant.

State's Attorney William Hymes said his office is preparing a response that will oppose the request.

Mr. Hymes said his staff would have to set up a satellite office before and during a relocated trial, which could last several weeks. Special arrangements also would have to be made for witnesses.

"By the time you take all those costs into consideration, it would be phenomenal," Mr. Hymes said.

Cases that involve changes of venue are rare, Mr. Hymes said. He noted that only two trials have been moved to another county during his 14 years in office.

Laurack Bray, a Washington attorney for Mr. Miller, said publicity about the incident is not the sole reason for the request to move the case out of Howard.

Mr. Bray noted that residents urged prosecutors to seek the death penalty against Mr. Miller and Mr. Soloman during community meetings in Savage after the fatal carjacking.

The defense attorney added that Howard residents have become acutely aware of carjackings through numerous workshops that have been provided to outline ways to prevent the crime.

Mr. Miller's trial should be in Prince George's County because the defendant is more likely there to get his constitutional right to face a jury of his peers, Mr. Bray said.

"I think [Prince George's County] is more of an urban environment, more closely related to the jurisdiction where Mr. Miller resides," Mr. Bray said.

The request probably will be addressed in court during a pretrial hearing Jan. 26, Mr. Bray said.

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