Police tactics questioned Rights issue raised in Basu carjacking

February 20, 1993|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

Defense attorneys questioned yesterday the tactics that Howard County police investigators used to get statements from two Washington men charged in the carjacking death of Pam Basu.

In separate hearings in Howard Circuit Court, attorneys for the defendants -- Rodney Eugene Soloman, 26, and Bernard Eric Miller, 17 -- argued that detectives violated their clients' rights when they obtained statements after the two men were arrested in the Sept. 8 slaying.

The attorneys are asking Judge Dennis Sweeney to prevent the prosecution from using the statements at the defendants' trials. The judge is expected to rule next week.

Prosecutors maintain that the defendants made the statements freely. They noted that investigators made sure the defendants understood they could have attorneys with them during questioning.

When Mr. Soloman was first questioned, he said he wanted a lawyer, so investigators stopped the interview, according to testimony. But Mr. Soloman later said he wanted to make a statement after a detective visited him in a police holding cell.

Detective Lee Lachman testified that he went to the cell to check on Mr. Soloman's condition and to ask the defendant whether he had been fingerprinted and photographed.

Sam Truette, a public defender representing Mr. Soloman, contended that Detective Lachman went to see his client with the hope of getting him to make a statement.

Detective Lachman "was determined to get a statement," Mr. Truette said. "He played real cute, fast and loose."

Laurack Bray, a Washington attorney representing Mr. Miller, said detectives took advantage of his client when he called them and asked to make a statement. "The police did not merely listen to his voluntary statement; they conducted an interrogation," Mr. Bray said. "This was a knowing exploitation of the situation and circumstances."

Mr. Soloman and Mr. Miller have been charged with first-degree murder and 18 other counts in the slaying of Dr. Basu, a Savage woman who was dragged to her death after being forced from her car.

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