Police: Man accused of attempting to rape woman after sneaking into her home

A man who authorities said has a history of publicly exposing himself to women allegedly went into a woman’s West Britt David Road home on July 8 and tried to rape her, according to a detective’s testimony Wednesday in Columbus Recorder’s Court.

Devonte Octavious Lee, 22, pleaded not guilty Wednesday morning to criminal attempt rape and burglary.

Judge Michael Joyner ordered him held in the Muscogee County Jail without bond. The case was bound over to Superior Court.

Police Detective Joseph Austin said officers were called to a residence on West Britt David Road around 3 a.m. July 8 after a woman found a stranger in her bedroom closet.

The suspect fled the scene before officers arrived, but they were able to obtain a description after speaking with the victim.

She told authorities that she was sleeping in the living room on her couch when her cat woke her and started acting strange.

“It kept looking down the hallway, so she became concerned,” Austin testified. “She walked down the hallway and got to her bedroom. In her bedroom, she observed the defendant, Mr. Lee, taking off his shirt.”

When she saw him, she immediately ran to the front of her home and called 911. She said she didn’t see the man leave, but she assumed that he exited through the bedroom window.

Officials said they recovered Lee’s fingerprints on the bedroom window, which led them to believe he entered and exited the home that way. They showed the defendant’s image to the victim in a photo lineup, and she identified him as the intruder, according to police.

After further investigation into his background, police learned Lee was charged in two prior incidents in which he was accused of flashing two women he didn’t know. He was convicted of at least one of those incidents and sentenced to 12 months of probation, Austin told the court.

Police believe Lee was involved in other public indecency acts and at least one peeping tom incident.

“Based on the victim’s testimony of him taking off his clothing and his prior history of public indecency, a warrant was issued for criminal attempt rape and burglary,” the detective said.

Authorities located Lee on West Britt David Road and took him into custody at 11:30 a.m. July 14. He was transported to the Columbus Public Safety Center for questioning.

During the interview, he allegedly admitted to being inside the victim’s residence but kept changing his reasoning.

“At first, he said he was looking for clothes for a beach trip that was coming up. Then later said he was looking for items that he could sell for a beach trip,” Austin testified.

Lee also denied the accusation that he tried to remove his clothing inside the residence.

“He stated that he was just trying to cover his face so the victim wouldn’t see it,” Austin told the judge.

Lee, who was represented by Columbus public defender Charles Lykins, didn’t testify.

Sarah Robinson: 706-571-8622, @sarahR_92