Crime

‘You scared these people to death’ — Man sentenced for nude Lakewood burglaries

A sex offender accused of breaking into Lakewood homes while nude and trying on lingerie was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison Friday afternoon.

Curtis Sell, 51, broke into multiple homes over the span of a few hours in August.

He said he was high on methamphetamines during the break-ins and has no memory of what occurred.

“I would just like to say to the victims how sorry I am,” he told the court. “That night I tried to commit suicide and shot so much dope into my body that I blacked out.”

Sell pleaded guilty to three counts of residential burglary in the case last year, and also pleaded guilty to failing to register as a sex offender.

That’s his fourth conviction for failing to register.

He was convicted of second-degree child rape in 1997 for having sex with a 13-year-old girl. He was 30-years-old at the time.

At Friday’s sentencing, defense attorney Jane Melby noted that three of Sell’s failures to register were while he was homeless.

She added that Sell has no prior allegations of entering a home without permission.

“This is not a person who is out there committing all of these sexual crimes,” Melby said. “I’m not trying to minimize what happened but I do think that it’s important to note that he left [the victims’] apartments. He never touched the women. It doesn’t make it any less horrifying but I do think it’s important in terms of litigation.”

One woman told police that, at around 6 a.m. on Aug. 2, she woke up in her apartment to a man leaning over her, wearing her headband around his waist, a condom and nothing else.

According to charging documents, she pushed him out the door and called police.

A couple hours later Sell showed up naked at another apartment in the same complex.

The woman he startled there screamed. Sell ran away.

Then the same day another woman found Sell in her closet, wearing her bra and holding her underwear.

During that stop, he cut his hair, drank a soda and opened her nail polish, according to reports.

After Sell eluded police for 20 days, law enforcement followed an anonymous tip and discovered him hiding in an attic.

At Friday’s sentencing, an advocate read a statement on behalf of one of the victims, identified as N.M.

The statement described Sell silently sneaking through N.M.’s window. She said she “screamed in terror” upon seeing him enter her bedroom.

After the incident, her brother-in-law installed extra locks and a home security system. But despite the added security, N.M. says she still wakes up every hour to check the windows.

“I have never been so scared. To this day I cannot sleep without my light on,” the victim’s statement read. “To realize he was that close to me — only a few feet away — is so terrifying that I can’t help but get angry and cry. I want to go to sleep without seeing his face and body when closing my eyes. I just want to feel safe again.”

Richard Link is N.M.’s brother-in-law. He was home when the break-in occurred.

Link said his child — who was 2-years-old at the time — was sleeping in the next room over when Sell broke in. The family still worries about what could have happened had Sell entered through the child’s room instead.

“Our daughter doesn’t know to scream. Our daughter doesn’t know to cry for help, to fight back,” Link said. “More nights than not she sleeps with us in the bed now. We can’t even let her be in her own room.”

Before Superior Court Judge Karena Kirkendoll handed down the sentence Friday afternoon, she addressed Sell.

“I am so grateful that no one was hurt. But you scared these people to death,” she said. “And I think you can tell by what we just heard the impact it’s had in the long-term.”

Sell said he intends to seek treatment for his drug use and mental health issues.

“I have no memory of what occurred that morning,” he told the court. “None whatsoever. I am shocked at my own behavior. I understand how terrified these people must have been.”

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