Accepted Cases

Jeff Titus

On November 17, 1990, two Kalamazoo County men, Doug Estes and Jim Bennett, were murdered while hunting in the Fulton State Game Area near Battle Creek. The men were shot in the back a short distance apart with two different types of shotgun ammunition. After a day of hunting with a friend, Titus returned home to discover police investigating the crime scene near his property and invited them to use his land to access the scene. Original investigating detectives concluded that Titus's alibi – supported by the owners of the land on which he had been hunting – made it impossible for him to be present at the time of the murders. After a thorough investigation and the elimination of several suspects, the case was left unsolved.

The case was reopened by a cold case team in 2000. In the course of the decade between the murders and the prosecution, Titus's alibi witnesses had aged and were no longer able to testify in his favor. At trial, his attorney failed to call the detectives who could testify about Titus's alibi and failed to question the changing testimony of the prosecution's main witness. Although the prosecution suggested a timeline of the crime that would have been virtually impossible to fulfill and would have been easily disproved by alibi witnesses, Titus was convicted in 2002.

The Clinic began investigating Titus's case after two detectives from the initial investigation suggested that they would be available to testify that Titus's alibi was credible. In the course of the investigation, the Clinic discovered that the cold case investigators had pursued evidence that there must have been more than one shooter in the crime. The cold case team dropped that line of inquiry over the protests of one detective (who also signed an affidavit in support of Titus) and never informed the defense about the evidence.

Put together, credible testimony about Titus's alibi and evidence about multiple shooters overwhelmingly indicates that Titus is innocent. With the support of three detectives, the Clinic has filed a motion for a new trial.

 
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