Basu carjacking trial to be decided by jury of 7 men and 5 women

April 09, 1993|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

Seven men and five women were picked yesterday as jurors to hear testimony for the first of two defendants to go on trial charged in the Pam Basu carjacking murder.

The jurors were selected after nearly four days of interviews with a judge, prosecutors and a defense attorney in Howard Circuit Court to decide the fate of Bernard Eric Miller, 17, of Washington. Testimony begins Monday.

Mr. Miller is charged with first-degree murder and 18 other counts in connection with the Sept. 8 slaying of Dr. Basu, who was dragged to her death after being forced from car near her Savage home.

One juror said during an interview with court officials that she initially thought the defendants were guilty of at least some of the alleged actions. She said, however, that she would rely on evidence to reach a verdict.

"In all honesty, my assumption was that they were both guilty of stealing the lady's car," said the woman, from Jessup. "What happened after that, I'm not sure."

Most of the people interviewed for the jury noted that they heard about the carjacking from newspapers and television, but said they would set aside media reports to reach a verdict based on the testimony.

"The state would have to prove it," said one woman, who was picked as an alternate. "I would follow what is presented at court and follow the judge's instructions."

Judge Dennis Sweeney instructed the jurors not to discuss the Basu case with anyone or go to the scene of the carjacking, which occurred on Horsham Road.

The jurors also were told to avoid any newspaper and television stories about the crime, which received national attention. The jury was not sequestered.

Nearly 200 county residents were interviewed by court officials on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. A hundred people were brought back to court yesterday for another round of questions.

Some of the questions included whether Mr. Miller's age would affect their verdict, whether they would rely more heavily on testimony from police officers, and whether they would have trouble reaching a verdict in a murder case.

Judge Sweeney presides over the trial, which will last for at least two weeks. If convicted, Mr. Miller would face a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole. Prosecutors are prohibited from seeking the death penalty for juveniles under state law.

The case of co-defendant Rodney Eugene Soloman, 27, of Washington has been moved to Baltimore County, but a trial date has not been set.

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