Defense attorneys for a Washington man charged with the carjacking murder of Pam Basu failed in their attempts yesterday to have prosecutors' requests for the death penalty withdrawn.
Baltimore County Circuit Judge Dana M. Levitz refused yesterday to withdraw the notice of the Howard County state's attorney's office to seek the maximum sentence against Rodney Eugene Solomon.
Mr. Solomon, 27, is scheduled to stand trial on Aug. 2 on 19 counts, including first-degree murder, in the Sept. 8 slaying Dr. Basu, a resident of Savage.
In an attempt to block a possible death penalty if Mr. Solomon is convicted, his lawyers claimed that Howard County prosecutors had engaged in misconduct in building a case against their client.
Mr. Solomon's lawyers argued that the prosecutors withheld statements from Mr. Solomon's co-defendant, Bernard Miller, who claimed to be driving Dr. Basu's stolen car when she was dragged to her death.
The state contends that Mr. Solomon was driving the car, which makes him eligible for the death penalty.
Miller, 17, was sentenced June 29 to life in prison plus 10 years for his role in the crime.
The defense also maintained that Howard County prosecutors thwarted the defense's efforts to obtain blood and urine samples from Mr. Solomon and that prosecutors sent letters to potential witnesses warning them against cooperating with defense attorneys.
In addition, defense lawyers accused the Howard County police of destroying evidence collected from the crime scene and improperly releasing to the media booking photos of Mr. Solomon and Miller.
"Whether intentional or not, whether as a grand design or not, there has been an overt effort to obstruct Mr. Solomon's right to investigate and prepare his defense," said W. Samuel Truette, an assistant public defender representing Mr. Solomon.