One clear sign Noah Lance Bell was piloted by a drug-addled mind washis tendency to fall asleep in the middle of a burglary, the man's lawyer said. Another sign was his decision to call a taxicab to transport him from the scene of a daytime break-in last October in Annapolis.
In that caper, Bell broke into a house through a kitchen windowand stole stereo equipment and a camera. Then he rode home, with hisbounty, in a Reliable Cab.
There's more: When neighbors in the 100 block of Homeland Avenue saw Bell leaving with the stereo equipment, they called police, who called the man who lives in the house. The man came home from work, cleaned up the place, locked the doors and returned to work.
When hereturned home that evening, he found his house had been broken into again. It seems Noah Bell had returned for the microwave, Assistant State's Attorney Frederick M. Paone said.
The Homeland Avenue break-in was just one of many attributed to Bell, said Paone, adding, "Theguy hit more houses than Santa Claus."
Bell, 20, formerly of the 1800 block of Copeland Street, Annapolis, pleaded guilty yesterday tonine counts of nighttime burglary and six counts of daytime breaking-and-entering. In exchange, prosecutors dropped a robbery charge and agreed to recommend a sentence of no more than 20 years.
Circuit Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. sentenced Bell to 20 years on each burglary conviction and 10 years on each daytime breaking-and-entering conviction, but he ordered the sentences to be served concurrently.
Paone was unable to estimate the total value of items taken by Bell, whohe said had been released on probation earlier last year after serving 18 months of a five-year sentence for robbery. The prosecutor saidBell favored jewelry and stereo equipment, and his take in any home ranged in value from $100 to $7,000.
Paone added, "He really hurt some people. He took family heirlooms."
The reason for all this breaking-and-entering, defense attorney Marcy Katz told the court, was Bell's severe addiction to cocaine -- in particular, crack. Katz saidBell's problems began at birth: There are signs he suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome. She said his mother is a drug and alcohol abuser.
Katz said Bell was treated for hyperactivity as a child and by age 15 had developed a drug problem. In 1990 "he literally went on a drug spree," Katz said.
Bell's arrest last December led Circuit Judge Eugene M. Lerner to find him guilty of violating the terms of hisprobation on the earlier robbery charge. Then he was brought to court yesterday from the Maryland Reception, Diagnostic and Classification Center in Baltimore for yesterday's hearing.
Katz said that Lerner had recommended that Bell serve his time at the Patuxent Institution and that he had been accepted into the Second Genesis drug-treatment program.
Katz also told the court that Bell had cooperated with police after his arrest, confessing to a number of break-ins and even pointing out houses he had hit as police drove him around the Annapolis area.
And there were plenty of places to point out. There was the October 1990 break-in at a home in the 900 block of Berwick Road. There was the burglary of the home in the 400 block of First Street in Eastport, and there was the break-in at the home in the 1300 block of Forest Drive.
And there was the Nov. 2, 1990, break-in at the home of Annapolis Alderman Ruth Gray.
Three days later, there was the Annapolis break-in where county police K-9 units responding to alarms found Bell asleep in the bedding section of a Montgomery Ward store, Paone said.
Bell was arrested, he said, but released on bond -- only to resume his burglaries. But during the day last Dec. 5,Bell was seen leaving a house in Eastport.
When Annapolis police began chasing him, he broke into several other houses, hoping to hide-- but also stealing items as he went, Paone said.
Finally, police found Bell in the upstairs bedroom of an Eastport house and arrested him, Paone said.
When it was his turn to speak in court yesterday, Bell said, "I just want to say I'm sorry for all the crimes I havecommitted and all the homes I have broken into."