Pathologist says Dr. Basu died of severe head injuries Victim's body was badly mutilated

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

Pam Basu died of severe head injuries that she received while being dragged alongside her stolen BMW, a medical examiner who performed her autopsy told a Howard County Circuit Court jury yesterday.

Dr. Donald Wright, a pathologist with the state medical examiner's office, testified that Dr. Basu's body was covered from head to toe with injuries that included broken bones, cuts and massive abrasions.

"It was a badly mutilated body," Dr. Wright said. "It was partially decapitated."

Dr. Wright testified in the trial of 17-year-old Bernard Eric Miller, one of two Washington men charged in the Sept. 8 carjacking murder of Dr. Basu, a 34-year-old research chemist.

Mr. Miller and Rodney Eugene Soloman, 27, of Washington, are each charged with first-degree murder and 18 other counts in connection with the slaying. The Soloman case has been moved to Baltimore County for trial, which is scheduled to begin Aug. 2.

Drawing an outline of a body on an easel, Dr. Wright listed the numerous injuries suffered by Dr. Basu. The top part of the woman's head, as well as much of her flesh and muscle, had been ground away.

Dr. Wright said the secondary cause of Dr. Basu's death was blood loss. He noted that there was so little blood in her body that he had trouble getting the amount needed by detectives for tests.

The prosecution contends that Mr. Miller and Mr. Soloman forced Dr. Basu from her 1990 BMW at an intersection near her home in Savage. Her 22-month-old daughter was in the car at the time and was later tossed onto the road while sitting in a child-safety seat.

Prosecutors assert that the defendants dragged the woman for 1.7 miles and drove the car into a barbed-wire fence to dislodge her body from the car. Dr. Wright said some of the woman's injuries could have been received from hitting the barbed-wire fence.

Dr. Wright said he believes Dr. Basu's arm was entangled in a seat belt, but he did not know how the arm became entangled.

He said the back of Dr. Basu's head first hit the road and she was briefly dragged on her back. She somehow flipped over and was dragged the rest of the way on the front of her body, he said.

Laurack D. Bray, a Washington attorney for Mr. Miller, challenged Dr. Wright on his ruling that Dr. Basu's death was a homicide and not an accident.

"You do not know she was killed by another person," Mr. Bray said. "You surmise she was killed by another person."

But Dr. Wright stood by his findings. "If her arm became entangled in the seat belt, that's one thing," he said. "But to be dragged alongside an automobile, that's another thing."

In other testimony yesterday, county police officers and state police troopers detailed how they arrested Mr. Miller and Mr. Soloman in a pasture in Highland.

Trooper Mark Price said he was pursuing the BMW west on Route 108 when he and the defendants approached a roadblock at the highway's intersection with Route 216.

Mr. Soloman, identified as the driver of the BMW by prosecutors, put the car into reverse and drove backward, Trooper Price said. He lost control, which went off the road, over an embankment and through a fence. The car came to rest in a stand of trees, which partially blocked the passenger-side door.

Mr. Soloman fled on foot and Mr. Miller was arrested as he climbed over the hood of the BMW, the trooper said.

"I pointed my service weapon [at Mr. Miller]," Trooper Price said. "I told him I'd kill him if he continued any farther. He dropped to his knees."

Mr. Soloman was arrested nearby.

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