Man blames comrade in Basu death Taped statement in carjacking case

February 18, 1993|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

A 26-year-old Washington man -- whom authorities have identified as the driver in the carjacking murder of Pam Basu -- blames his teen-age co-defendant for the death in a taped statement released yesterday.

Rodney Eugene Soloman initially refused to be interviewed after officers read him his rights, but he later changed his mind and begged to make a statement hours after his arrest for the Sept. 8 murder of the Savage woman, according to authorities.

"He began begging and demanding to make a statement," Detective Lee Lachman said yesterday during a hearing in Howard Circuit Court. "He kept saying 'I want to make a statement. Come on, Detective, I want to make a statement.' "

Detective Lachman testified during the hearing that had been requested by Mr. Soloman's attorneys in an effort to prevent the taped interview and other statements the defendant gave to police from being used at his trial, which is set for March 29.

About 10 minutes of the 45-minute tape were played at the hearing. The remainder of the tape is expected to be played at hearings today or tomorrow. Most of the first 10 minutes of the tape cover Detective Lachman going over the defendant's rights. However, Mr. Soloman occasionally interrupts the investigator and refers to the carjacking and his co-defendant, Bernard Eric Miller, 17, of Washington.

"I was around. But I didn't do it," Mr. Soloman said during the taped interview. "He did it."

Mr. Soloman and Mr. Miller have each been charged with first-degree murder and 18 other counts for the slaying of Dr. Basu, who was dragged to her death after being forced from her car. Soloman would face the death penalty if convicted, while Mr. Miller would face a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole.

Laurack Bray, a Washington attorney for Mr. Miller, declined to comment on Mr. Soloman's statement.

Deborah Miller, Mr. Miller's mother, said in an interview after her son's arrest in September that her son told her that Mr. Soloman forced him to go along with the carjacking.

A police report filed in Circuit Court said Mr. Soloman was driving Dr. Basu's silver BMW after the carjacking.

Mr. Soloman initially told county police officers that he had not been driving the car, according to testimony at yesterday's hearing.

But Mr. Soloman also asked about the penalty for driving without a license and whether he would be permitted to leave if he paid a fine, Detective Ellsworth Jones said.

Detective Mark Miller testified that while being fingerprinted and photographed after his arrest Mr. Soloman asked if he would be able to get bail for a murder charge.

"He kept saying through the whole process that he was going to beat this charge," Detective Miller said. "He said it was a case of mistaken identity."

Detectives Jones and Miller said Mr. Soloman freely made the statements. They added that they did not ask him any questions while they were with him.

Also during yesterday's hearing, Judge Dennis Sweeney denied a request by defense attorneys to prohibit prosecutors from introducing evidence at Mr. Soloman's trial that they have not yet reviewed.

Judge Sweeney, however, gave the prosecutors a deadline of March 15 to provide the defense attorneys with the evidence. The evidence includes diagrams of the crime scene, fingerprint reports and a video that the victim's husband made before the carjacking that shows the defendants in the neighborhood.

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