Defense wants Miller to testify Prosecution rests in carjacking trial

August 12, 1993|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

The Washington teen-ager convicted in April of the Pam Basu carjacking murder is expected to be called to the witness stand today for the defense of his co-defendant on trial in Baltimore County.

A writ for 17-year-old Bernard Eric Miller to appear in Circuit Court during the trial of Rodney Eugene Solomon was delivered to him at the state Division of Corrections in Baltimore City yesterday.

It is unclear what Miller will say about the Sept. 8, 1992, slaying of Dr. Basu, who was dragged for nearly two miles to her death after being forced from her BMW near her Savage home.

Laurack D. Bray, a Washington attorney who represents Miller, said last week that he would advise his client against testifying.

"You'll see what I'll do," Mr. Bray said yesterday outside the courtroom of Mr. Solomon's trial. "I'll be here in the morning."

Miller, who is serving a life sentence for the slaying, is expected to be called as part of the defense strategy to show that he -- not Mr. Solomon -- was driving the car that dragged Dr. Basu to her death.

Assistant Public Defender Samuel Truette said in a hearing before testimony started last week that he may introduce a statement Miller gave to police saying he was driving the stolen BMW.

But prosecutors maintain that Mr. Solomon was driving the car. They dismissed Miller's statement, noting that he gave several contradictory statements to investigators after his arrest.

Several prosecution witnesses either identified Mr. Solomon or a man fitting his description as the driver. Other witnesses identified Miller as the passenger.

Mr. Solomon, 27, of Washington could face the death sentence if convicted of first-degree murder for the slaying of Dr. Basu.

Mr. Solomon and Miller allegedly forced the 33-year-old scientist from her car and dragged her, after her left arm became entangled in a seat belt as she struggled to get her 22-month-old daughter from the car's back seat.

The incident occurred in Howard County, but Mr. Solomon's trial was moved to Baltimore County. His attorneys declined to say whether he will testify.

In yesterday's proceedings, prosecutors rested their case against Mr. Solomon after presenting 28 witnesses and about 200 pieces of evidence to the jury.

Defense attorneys opened their case with the testimony of Dennis Augustyniak, an expert in reconstructing accidents from Sykesville. Mr. Augustyniak, hired by the defense to study the incident, said the BMW was out of control when it rounded a curve along Gorman Road and ran along a barbed-wire fence.

The prosecution contends that Mr. Solomon and Miller purposely drove into the fence in an effort to dislodge Dr. Basu's body from alongside the BMW. Her body was found lying in Gorman Road a short distance from the fence, wrapped in barbed wire.

In other testimony, Katherine Nehring of North Laurel said she saw a man throwing Dr. Basu's daughter -- still sitting in a child-safety seat -- onto the roadway like a "bag of potatoes."

She described the driver as a black man about 30 years old. She said the man who tossed the girl was wearing dark long pants and a light-colored, long-sleeve shirt -- clothing similar to what prosecutors say Miller was wearing.

Mr. Truette, the defense lawyer, presented Ms. Nehring with a statement she gave to police on the day of the carjacking. In the statement, Ms. Nehring says the driver got out of the car, went to the passenger-side rear door, tossed the girl onto the road and then got back into the driver's seat.

But while testifying, Ms. Nehring said she did not see the man get out of or into the driver's seat. She said she only recalls that the man walked toward the front of the car after leaving the girl behind.

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