An Anne Arundel County jury on Wednesday found a Lothian man guilty on all counts of house robbery and attempted rape in connection with a nighttime burglary at the home of an elderly Mayo woman last summer.
Paul Daniel Harell, 50, was convicted of home invasion, attempted first and second degree rape, first and second degree assault, reckless endangerment and dangerous weapons for the Aug. 13, 2021 incident. A jury delivered the verdict Wednesday afternoon after five days of testimony, according to a spokesperson for the Public Prosecution Service.
There was no date of sentencing immediately available in online court records on Wednesday. Attempted rape in the first degree carries a maximum life sentence.
Anne Colt Leitess, Anne Arundel County attorney, said in a statement that “justice was served” by the guilty plea, expressing gratitude to witnesses and Anne Arundel agents who identified Harell’s vehicle, where detectives received a receipt from a emergency clinic found for injuries to be from battle. The receipt, coupled with the DNA samples, was “critical evidence,” she said.
“Most importantly, I hope that the brave survivor of this disturbing crime will gain a sense of peace knowing that this person will receive a long sentence,” Leitess said.
When prosecutors began calling witnesses on Thursday, a 74-year-old woman testified that she woke up in the middle of the night to feel a man on top of her grab her by the throat. The woman, who The Capital does not identify, said she fought back against the intruder, who tried to take her clothes off and threatened to kill her. She also testified that she saw the glint of a knife in the dim room, but could not recognize any of the man’s features. He walked away after she activated a medical alarm device, which sounded a loud alarm throughout the house, she said during her testimony last week.
Anne Arundel County police investigators testified that they identified Harell as a suspect after a teenage neighbor said he saw a vehicle marked “MASKS 4 SALE” on the rear window. A southern district officer later saw the vehicle at a gas station, with Harell in the driver’s seat. Investigators found that Harell worked for a cleaning service and had been at the woman’s home a few days before the attack.
Anastasia Prigge, an assistant state attorney, has provided evidence that Harell’s DNA was detected in a sample taken under the woman’s fingernails while she was being treated for injuries in hospital. Prigge argued that his DNA was present because of the struggle, contradicting claims by Harell’s attorney, Anne Stewart-Hill, that his DNA was present because he had been in the house and had contact with the woman earlier that week.
Anne Arundel County Circuit judge Pamela Alban allowed the district attorney to provide evidence of two previous rape cases involving Harell, who had been convicted in three Washington state rape cases in the early 1990s. The victims of two of the cases flew to Maryland to testify about their attack by Harell, which Prigge said was similar to the August attack.
Jurors were not notified of the third rape conviction, which was not admitted as evidence. On Tuesday morning, Alban asked each juror if they had seen any media coverage of the trial, as Stewart-Hill noted that an article in The Capital contained a reference to the third incident.
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Presenting her opening statement Tuesday afternoon, Stewart-Hill told jurors that the prosecution could not prove that Harell was the intruder in the house that night, and that DNA evidence on the woman could have been collected earlier in the week. handed over while he was cleaning. her house.
Even if jurors determined that Harell was the intruder that night, there was no evidence to prove he had attempted to rape the woman, Stewart-Hill said.
Although the woman testified that the intruder tried to pull down her pajama bottoms and up her shirt, Stewart-Hill said the intruder did not take off his clothes, try to kiss the woman or say anything that would imply he intended to kill her. rape. She said the woman had not told first responders that the intruder was trying to sexually assault her, and that the two rape cases in Washington state were different, noting that the victims were significantly younger.
“These are incidents from 30 years ago,” Stewart-Hill said. To convict him, the jurors had to “believe at the time that he hadn’t changed,” she said, noting that he had taken the cleaning job to “get his life back on track” after serving his sentence.
Harell waived his right as a defendant not to testify and took the stand on Tuesday afternoon.
Harell said he returned to Maryland in 2020 to reconnect with relatives in Lothian after serving his sentence in Washington for the three rapes. He used to be original convicted in 1994 to more than 16 years in prison, but was ordered to be committed to the custody of state health officials after prosecutors successfully argued he was a sexually abusive predator likely to repeat himself, court reports said.
Harell, a Connecticut native, said he moved to Maryland as a child when his father, who served in the United States Air Force, was traveling across the country for work. Harell testified that he enlisted in the United States Navy in 1991 and worked as an aviation munitions man, which took him to Washington.