Solomon draws life without parole 80 years added in Basu carjacking

August 19, 1993|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

Rodney Eugene Solomon, 27, was sentenced last night to life without parole -- plus 80 years -- in the Pam Basu carjacking murder.

A Baltimore County Circuit jury could have sentenced the Washington man to death in Maryland's gas chamber.

"The crime in this case was outrageous and inhumane," Judge Dana Mark Levitz said. "It's because of that these sentences are imposed," referring to the 80 years he added to the life term for two counts of robbery, assault with intent to rob and two counts of kidnapping.

Shortly before 10 p.m., the jury of nine women and three men returned the verdict after about nine hours of deliberations. The jurors had asked Judge Levitz if they could stop at 6:30 p.m. and continue today. But he instructed them to deliberate as long as possible.

Solomon, 27, was convicted Friday after six days of testimony for the Sept. 8, 1992, slaying of Dr. Basu, a 33-year-old scientist who was dragged to her death after being forced from her car at an intersection near her Savage home.

"There is one thing that caused her death," Senior Assistant State's Attorney Michael Rexroad said in his closing argument, pointing to Solomon. "The one thing that caused her death is sitting right there."

But Public Defender Carol Hanson urged the jury to spare Solomon from the death sentence. She noted that a psychologist testified that Solomon suffers from brain damage, post-traumatic stress syndrome and a learning disability.

"The loss of Pam Basu is tragic," Ms. Hanson said. "We all shed tears over her loss. But you cannot indulge yourself in these emotions. You swore you would not, and we believed you."

To sentence Solomon, the jurors were given a form that listed questions for them to answer to decide whether the death sentence or life in prison was more appropriate.

The jury first had to decide whether Solomon was the principal actor during the carjacking. The jury then had to determine if the circumstances surrounding Dr. Basu's murder outweigh factors about Solomon.

The jurors had to consider among other factors whether Solomon poses a future threat to society, if he was the sole cause of Dr. Basu's death, and if he had the mental capacity to understand his actions.

Now that jurors have reached the verdict, court officials will provide them with counseling to help them cope with the emotional hardships caused by the gruesome testimony.

The service is the first of its kind offered to a Baltimore County jury, Judge Levitz said. "I think it may be something that will be beneficial for jurors," he said. "This is a tough thing to ask people to do."

Solomon's co-defendant, 17-year-old Bernard Eric Miller of Washington, is serving a life sentence after his conviction in April.

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