Judge allows videotape in Basu carjacking trial Defense says pictures are irrelevant

April 21, 1993|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

A Howard County jury will view a videotape today that shows Pam Basu preparing to take her daughter to nursery school while the two men charged with her slaying are seen walking past her Savage home.

Howard Circuit Judge Dennis Sweeney ruled yesterday that prosecutors can introduce the videotape in their case against Bernard Eric Miller, despite efforts by the defense attorney to block the tape.

"The tape is certainly compelling in its juxtaposition of the victim and the individual the state has accused in the case," Judge Sweeney said.

In testimony yesterday, prosecutors introduced results of blood tests and fingerprint examinations that link Mr. Miller to the slaying.

Mr. Miller, 17, of Washington, is one of two 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 for the slaying. The Soloman case has been moved to Baltimore County for trial, which is scheduled to begin Aug. 2.

Judge Sweeney viewed the brief videotape -- made by Dr. Basu's husband -- after proceedings ended yesterday. The tape could be heard, but not seen, by spectators in the courtroom.

In the videotape, a man and woman believed to be the Basus, are heard announcing that it was their 22-month-old daughter's first day at nursery school. Seconds later, a car engine is heard starting.

The prosecution contends that Dr. Basu was forced from her BMW shortly after the videotape ended, when she was stopped at an intersection near her home.

Senior Assistant State's Attorney Michael Rexroad said the prosecution will introduce four versions of the videotape, all of which have been enhanced by the FBI to show Mr. Miller and Mr. Soloman walking past the Basu home as Dr. Basu and her daughter got into the BMW.

Prosecutors also will show the jury of seven men and five women sets of photographs of the defendants made from the videotape by the FBI, Mr. Rexroad said.

Laurack D. Bray, a Washington attorney for Mr. Miller, said the videotape and pictures should be withheld because it will prejudice the jurors against his client. He also said the videotape and pictures are irrelevant.

"The only thing that it shows is that he [Mr. Miller] was present in the area," Mr. Bray said. "We are not making an issue that he was at the scene."

Mr. Bray said in his opening statement that Mr. Miller had an "innocent presence" during the carjacking.

But Judge Sweeney said he believes the tape and pictures are relevant. He noted that the evidence will illustrate several issues raised during the trial, such as the clothing and demeanor of the defendants.

Michael Marinaro, a forensic chemist at the state police's crime laboratory, testified yesterday that tests showed Dr. Basu's blood was found on Mr. Miller's shoes. A piece of flesh from Dr. Basu's body also was found on jogging pants discarded by the defendant, he said.

Mr. Marinaro said he did not find any blood on Mr. Soloman's clothing.

But similar tests revealed blood stains of the victim on the --board and floor mats, and her hair and flesh on the BMW's driver's side seat belt, --board and floor mats, Mr. Marinaro said. Blood and flesh also were found in the wheel well of the car's left rear tire.

Robert Bartley, a county police fingerprint expert, testified he found 22 fingerprints and two palm prints on the BMW that match Mr. Miller's prints. The prints were found on the car's hood and inside the window of the passenger door. They also were on two of Dr. Basu's credit cards.

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