Husband recounts day of carjacking Basu videotape is shown to jury

August 11, 1993|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

Pam Basu's husband tearfully recounted yesterday how he searched for his wife when she failed to meet him, unaware she had been dragged to her death after being forced from her car.

told a Baltimore County jury of nine women and three men that it was not until he found several police cars stopped near his Savage home that he realized something had happened to his wife.

Mr. Basu said he asked a police officer if he had seen Dr. Basu or her BMW sedan. The officer responded by telling Mr. Basu to park his car.

"I knew that something really bad had happened at that time," Mr. Basu said, breaking into tears.

Mr. Basu took the witness stand on the fourth day of testimony in the Circuit Court trial of Rodney Eugene Solomon, 27, of Washington. Mr. Solomon could face the death penalty if convicted for the Sept. 8, 1992, slaying of Dr. Basu.

In other proceedings, the prosecution showed the jury a videotape made by Mr. Basu minutes before the carjacking. The video shows Mr. Solomon and Bernard Eric Miller, 17, of Washington walking by the Basu family's home in the 9600 block of Horsham Drive.

Mr. Solomon and the teen-ager allegedly forced the 33-year-old scientist from her car and dragged her nearly two miles.

Dr. Basu's left arm became entangled in a seat belt as she struggled to get her 22-month-old daughter, Sarina, from the car's back seat.

The incident occurred in Howard County, but Mr. Solomon's trial was moved to Baltimore County. Miller is serving a life sentence for his role in the slaying, following a Howard Circuit Court trial in April.

During about 30 minutes of testimony, Mr. Basu said that his wife got up at 6:30 a.m. on Sept. 8 to get their daughter ready for her first day of preschool. To commemorate the day, Mr. Basu said, he videotaped the activities at the family's home.

Mr. Basu said he planned to take the family's baby sitter to Sarina's school in Columbia so she would know where to pick up the girl. Mr. Basu planned to meet his wife at the school.

As Mr. Basu and the baby sitter drove to the school, he said, he noticed a woman's white shoe lying in the intersection of Horsham Drive and Knight's Bridge Road, about one block from the Basu family's home.

"I said to the baby sitter I thought it was kind of strange that there was a shoe in the road," he testified. He added that he didn't realize the shoe belonged to his wife, left behind during the struggle with the assailants.

When Mr. Basu got to the school, he said, he couldn't find his wife or daughter. Thinking his wife had car trouble, Mr. Basu said, he went to look for her along Route 32. He did not find her and went back to the school. She still had not arrived.

He embarked on another search, this time to U.S. 1 and back. Mr. Basu said he wondered if Sarina became ill and his wife took her home, so he decided to go there.

He got to Horsham Drive's intersection with Gorman Road when he found the police cars. Prosecutors say this is where the assailants "tossed" Sarina out of the car, still belted in her child-safety seat.

The jurors appeared expressionless as they watched three versions of the video made by Mr. Basu. One version was enhanced to improve the visual quality. Another version zooms in on Mr. Solomon and puts his actions into slow motion. The third does the same for Miller.

Judge Dana Mark Levitz also released the videotape to the media yesterday. In Miller's Howard County trial, Judge Dennis Sweeney refused to release the video, citing concerns about influencing Mr. Solomon's trial.

In the video, Dr. Basu leads Sarina down a walkway to the BMW. As she picks up the girl, a shirtless Mr. Solomon walks down the street. He puts his hand to his face and turns back to Miller, who follows behind on the sidewalk. Dr. Basu seems to look at the men as they walk by.

In other testimony, Randy Valonis of Sykesville testified that Mr. Solomon and Miller brought the BMW to the Eldersburg Car Wash, where he had worked as an attendant, to clean the car.

"It was beat up," he testified. "It had blood down the side of it."

Robert Bartley, a fingerprint expert with the Howard Police Department, testified he found one fingerprint on the exterior of the driver's side rear door that came from Mr. Solomon. Three prints that came from Miller were found inside the passenger-side window, he said.

Three state police troopers also testified, detailing the arrest of Mr. Solomon and Miller after the BMW crashed in Highland. Mr. Solomon led police on a foot chase before he was arrested.

"[Mr. Solomon] said he was out for a jog," one trooper testified.

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