Annapolis, Md. – Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess announced that a jury found Paul Harell, 50, guilty of all charges in the attempted first-degree rape and home invasion of a 74-year-old woman as she lay in bed at her home. The other counts were first-degree assault and the use of a deadly weapon.
The defendant will be sentenced on August 30, 2022, and faces a life sentence, plus 58 years for his crimes. Harell had previously been convicted of three counts of rape in 1993 in Washington State. He served 16 years in prison and was then civilly committed to the custody of the state as a sexually violent predator following his prison sentence.
“Justice was served as the defendant was found guilty of all charges,” said State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess. “I’m thankful that a witness observed a possible suspect vehicle and gave a highly detailed description to county police. Just a few hours after the attack, Officer Slattery observed a vehicle matching the description and photographed it, and identified the driver after detaining him briefly in an investigative stop. Shortly thereafter, Detective Klaplaska and Detective Cunningham investigated the suspect’s medical treatment after locating a receipt from a clinic in his car. The victim had fought off her attacker and scratched him during the struggle. These injuries, coupled with the suspect’s DNA found on her hands were crucial evidence. Most importantly, I hope that the brave survivor of this disturbing crime will gain a sense of peace knowing that we intend to seek the maximum sentence and remove the defendant once and for all from the community.”
Assistant State’s Attorney Anastasia Prigge prosecuted this case on behalf of the citizens of Anne Arundel County.
On August 13, 2021, Anne Arundel County Police responded to the 2300 block of Likes Road in Edgewater to investigate a burglary in progress. The caller advised that a male was in her house and assaulted her. Upon arrival, an Anne Arundel County police officer spoke to the victim and observed she was bleeding from a puncture wound to her upper chest. She advised she was sleeping in her bedroom when she was awakened by a suspect, later identified as Paul Harell, holding her down on the bed. She stated that she began to struggle with the defendant and he struck her several times on the right side of her head. The defendant told her he would kill her and instructed the victim to roll onto her stomach when she began to fight against him harder. The defendant put a knife to the victim’s throat but she was able to kick him and break free. She pressed her medic alert device which sounded an audible alarm and the defendant ran down to the basement.
The victim immediately called 911. The victim told police officers that the attacker was wearing dark-colored shorts and work boots.
Later that day while canvassing the neighborhood, police interviewed a witness who advised sometime after midnight he observed a suspicious dark brown or gray mini-van with writing on the rear window that said, “Masks 4 Sale.” The witness stated that the vehicle was traveling away from the victim’s residence but then made a U-turn on the adjacent street and continued back in the direction of the victim’s residence.
During the afternoon following the attack, Anne Arundel County Police Officer Slattery observed a gray-colored Ford Escape in the rear parking lot of a convenience store on Shady Side Road. The vehicle displayed handwriting on the rear side windows, “Masks 4 Sale.” Officer Slattery briefly detained and interviewed the driver to identify him and obtain photographs of the van and tags. The defendant was identified as the driver. Later, when police sought to arrest the defendant after linking him to the home invasion, they discovered that he had scraped the writing off the van. They also learned that the defendant was employed by a cleaning company and he had been in the victim’s home a few days before the attack.
During the investigation, the defendant’s DNA was found under the fingernails of the victim and police located a receipt to an area clinic the defendant visited shortly after the attack. Police believed he had sought treatment for injuries to his arm and his eye that he sustained from the struggle with the victim. In addition, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Cellular Analysis Team conducted a historical records analysis of the defendant’s cellular phone and determined that the defendant’s phone was in the area of the crime scene during the time period of the attack.
The Honorable Pamela Alban presided over the case.