Witnesses describe ruthless actions of two carjackers

April 14, 1993|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

Biswanath "Steve" Basu thought it was strange that a woman's shoe was left in the middle of an intersection near his family's home.

But he didn't think much of it and continued on his way to meet his wife so they could see off their 22-month-old daughter at her first day at pre-school.

When they failed to arrive at the school, he became increasingly worried, he told jurors yesterday. He drove around the neighborhood and came upon police cars.

"I knew something was wrong right then," Mr. Basu said, stopping to wipe tears from his eyes. "My heart just sank. I knew something happened to her."

Later he realized it had been his wife's shoe in the road, part of a trail of evidence police would gather to build a case against two men accused of the carjacking murder of 34-year-old Pam Basu. Mr. Basu testified for about an hour yesterday in the case of Bernard Eric Miller, a 17-year-old Washington youth who is the first defendant to stand trial on the charges.

Others testifying yesterday in Howard County Circuit Court gave details about how the defendants pulled and kicked Dr. Basu from her car. Three people testified that they saw a woman hanging from the driver's side of a speeding BMW.

Mr. Miller is charged with first-degree murder and 18 other counts for the slaying of Dr. Basu, a research chemist who became entangled in a seat belt during the carjack attempt and was dragged for nearly two miles to her death.

Mr. Miller, charged as an adult, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole if convicted. Prosecutors are prohibited from seeking the death penalty for any juvenile, under state law.

Co-defendant Rodney Eugene Soloman, 27, of Washington, faces a possible death sentence if found guilty of the slaying. His case has been moved to Baltimore County, but a trial date has not been set.

One witness yesterday, Kevin Brown of Odenton, said he was driving a dump truck on Knights Bridge Road when he saw two men struggling with a woman in a BMW stopped at Horsham Road.

The older of the two men repeatedly struck the woman as he tried to pull her from the car, Mr. Brown said. The younger man held the edge of the car's roof at the passenger's door and kicked at the woman.

Mr. Brown said he got a chain from his truck to help the woman, but by then she had been forced out of the car. Mr. Brown said the woman's left arm was somehow attached to the car as the men drove away.

The woman shouted for her child, who was still inside, and tried to keep up with the car, but fell as it picked up speed, Mr. Brown said. After her head struck the roadway, "she just went limp," he said.

Keith McLamb, of North Laurel, said he was driving on Gorman Road but had to suddenly stop his car when a speeding BMW ran a stop sign at the intersection with Horsham Drive. Mr. McLamb said a woman was hanging from the driver's side door of the car.

After turning onto Gorman Road, the BMW stopped, the passenger got out and opened the rear passenger door, Mr. McLamb said. The man pulled out a child-safety seat with a child still in it and "tossed" it onto the gravel berm.

The car sped away, heading west. Stephanie Donnelly of North Laurel testified that she was walking from nearby Forest Ridge Elementary School when she saw the car speeding toward her.

Ms. Donnelly said she realized the body of a woman was hanging from the car. The woman's feet were dragging on the road.

"I was screaming over and over again, 'Oh my God, stop. Oh my God, stop,' " Ms. Donnelly said. "It continued to go at the same speed past me."

The soft-spoken Mr. Basu, a mechanical engineer, paused several times during his testimony to fight tears. About a half-dozen relatives, including Dr. Basu's sister and father, were in the courtroom for the testimony.

Mr. Basu told the seven men and five women of the jury about the morning hours before the carjacking. "That was the first day of Sarina's school," he said. "We were excited."

Mr. Basu said he used a video camera to capture his wife and baby sitter preparing the child for school. He taped them going outside, loading up the car and getting inside it.

Mr. Basu said he realized he also filmed two men walking by his house. The men turned out to be Mr. Miller and Mr. Soloman, according to police. Prosecutors are expected to use the videotape as evidence against the defendants.

After his wife and daughter pulled away in the BMW sedan, Mr. Basu said he went into the house, changed his clothes, and left with the baby sitter to show her where to pick up his daughter at school.

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