Judge to decide venue for carjacking trial Lawyer seeks move to Prince George's

December 16, 1992|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Staff Writer

A judge could decide by tomorrow whether a county jury will hear the trial of a Washington, D.C., youth charged in the September carjacking death of a Savage woman.

Laurack D. Bray, an attorney for 17-year-old Bernard Eric Miller, says his client cannot get a fair trial in Howard County.

The youth is one of two people charged in the death of Dr. Pam Basu, who was dragged more than 2 miles after thieves stole her car Sept. 8. He is scheduled for trial Feb. 22.

At a hearing yesterday, Mr. Bray asked that Howard County Circuit Judge Dennis Sweeney allow the trial to move to another county.

Mr. Bray favors Prince George's County, where he said the jury would be more diverse. Mr. Bray said a town meeting following Dr. Basu's death, news media attention and police-sponsored workshops on carjacking had prejudiced county residents, who are potential jurors for the trial.

Mr. Bray argued that events such as the town meeting, where the majority of the 450 people who attended "clapped and cheered" in support of the death penalty, were unique to this area. "The meeting took place in this county and no other counties," he said. "The workshops took place in Howard County and no other counties."

But Assistant State's Attorney Joseph Murtha said the carjacking attracted national attention, and moving the trial to Prince George's County would be inappropriate.

"Prince George's County and Howard County share commonalit of newspapers, media . . . and viewing and listening audiences," he said.

He entered as evidence more than 30 clippings from newspapers and magazines, including the Prince George's Journal, Time, People and Newsweek, and cited several television shows, such as "Oprah," "Donahue" and "Geraldo," that had reported on the carjacking.

"President Bush even referred to the . . . crime in an address in St. Louis," Mr. Murtha said.

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