Basu jury to see tape of suspect Video was made just before crime

August 10, 1993|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

A Baltimore County jury is expected to view a videotape today that shows two men walking by the home of Pam Basu moments before they allegedly forced her from her car and dragged her to her death.

The videotape, made by Dr. Basu's husband to commemorate their daughter's first day of nursery school, will be played as part of the prosecution's case against Rodney Eugene Solomon, 27, of Washington.

Yesterday, prosecutors and defense attorneys clashed about whether four versions of the videotape, specially enhanced by the FBI to highlight Mr. Solomon and his companion, should be shown to the jury.

Judge Dana Mark Levitz ruled that the prosecution can play three versions of the videotape, but without sound and the FBI logo at the beginning of each version.

The judge made his ruling after Assistant Public Defender Margaret Lanier argued that the tapes, particularly one that zooms in on Mr. Solomon and puts his actions into slow motion, will grab the emotions of the jurors.

"It seems the tape is setting up the villain, the way horror movies do," Ms. Lanier said.

But Senior Assistant State's Attorney Michael Rexroad argued that the videotapes show that Mr. Solomon and his co-defendant, 17-year-old Bernard Eric Miller of Washington, knew Dr. Basu was about to get into her car with her daughter.

"This is like a crime scene video," he said. "It shows what happened."

The video -- presented to a Howard County jury at Miller's trial -- shows Dr. Basu leading her 22-month-old daughter, Sarina, down the walkway of their Savage home to a 1990 BMW sedan.

Dr. Basu picks up Sarina to put the girl into a child-safety seat in the car's back seat, and looks at Mr. Solomon and Miller as they walk by. First comes Mr. Solomon, wearing black shorts and no shirt down the middle of the road. He is followed by Miller, walking on the sidewalk across the street.

The video was made by Biswanath "Steve" Basu, who is also expected to testify today.

Prosecutors contend that Mr. Solomon and Miller forced Pam Basu out of the BMW at a nearby intersection. The 33-year-old scientist's left arm became entangled in a seat belt during a struggle, and she was dragged nearly two miles to her death after the assailants sped off.

Sarina Basu was unharmed during the carjacking.

Mr. Solomon, who prosecutors say was driving the stolen BMW, could face the death penalty if convicted for the Sept. 8, 1992, slaying. Miller is serving a life sentence for his role in the slaying.

Miller had his trial in Howard County in April, but Mr. Solomon's case was moved to Baltimore County.

In yesterday's testimony, Kevin Brown, a Glen Burnie resident who witnessed the carjacking, described a man fitting Mr. Solomon's description as the assailant who drove the BMW. Another witness, Steven Poore of Savage, identified Miller as the passenger when he saw the car speeding on Gorman Road.

Jody Tookey, a Howard County police officer, testified that she found Dr. Basu's body lying on Gorman Road, just beyond Interstate 95. The body was severely mangled and appeared to be wrapped in barbed wire from a nearby fence that the BMW had crashed into.

Dr. Donald Wright, who conducted the autopsy, testified that Dr. Basu died from massive head injuries. He said that her left eye was missing, her left shoulder and elbow were dislocated, and two bones in her back were broken.

Barbara Solomon, the defendant's mother, sat with another son throughout most of yesterday's testimony. She left the courtroom in tears, however, as Dr. Wright described Dr. Basu's injuries.

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