Man indicted on 21-year-old cold case; faces death penalty

Timothy Sellers, indicted for 1990 homicide, Source: Ohio Dept. of Corrections
Timothy Sellers, indicted for 1990 homicide, Source: Ohio Dept. of Corrections

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - DNA evidence from a suspect in a 1990 murder case results in a death-penalty indictment from the prosecutors office.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph T. Deters announced the death penalty indictment of Timothy Sellers, 57, formerly of Poplar Street in the 1990 murder of Lillian Curtis. Sellers is charged with one count of Aggravated Murder (Special Felony). If convicted, he faces the death penalty.

Sellers is accused of raping and murdering Miss Curtis on March 22, 1990 in Over-the-Rhine at 1213 Republic Street. Her badly beaten body was found on the 5th floor of the building and the coroner ruled her death a homicide as a result of blunt force trauma to the head. She also suffered serious lacerations to other parts of her body.

Although Sellers was a suspect at the time of the murder, the police did not have enough evidence to proceed on the case at that time.

Sellers was also charged in 1990 with rape and involuntary manslaughter in the death of Pauline Dunkman. Sellers brutally raped Ms. Dunkman in June 1990 and she died 9 days later as a result of a blood infection caused by the extensive injuries incurred in the rape. Sellers was convicted of these charges and sentenced to 15-25 years in prison where he remains today.

In 2002 the Cincinnati Police Department received information that there was a CODIS (Combined DNA Indexing System) hit on the Curtis case with DNA from Sellers. Information regarding DNA and CODIS hits was in its infancy in 2002 and, unfortunately, the police department failed to act on this information at that time. Today, the Cincinnati Police Department has procedures in place to guard against this type of mistake.

The Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office received the case in late 2010 and began an investigation which resulted in the indictment.

Prosecutor Deters commented, "It is unfortunate that a simple mistake kept this case from going to court several years ago. Fortunately, Sellers has been in prison since the death of Miss Curtis and not able to hurt or kill anyone else. Sellers is a vicious killer who has preyed upon very vulnerable victims. We have the evidence necessary to send him to death row.

I applaud the Cincinnati Police Department for creating internal controls within their office to prevent a similar situation from occurring."

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