Michigan prosecutors have dropped murder charges against Jeff Titus. The man served nearly 21 years in prison after being accused of shooting fishermen. He has always maintained his innocence.
Titus was released in February when authorities admitted that key information about another suspect — a serial killer in Ohio — had not been shared with Titus’ attorney in 2002.
After a three-month investigation into the case, it was now decided that the charges against Titus would be dropped. So there is no new trial waiting for him. “It’s the right thing,” said Attorney General Jeff Getting.
At the press conference, Titus, 71, said he was “really innocent”. “You can put me on the shelf, give me the truth serum, whatever. I didn’t do it. I didn’t shoot these people.”
Hunters Doug Estes and Jim Bennett were shot and killed in 1990 near Titus’ country estate. Since Titus was on a deer hunting trip some 27 miles away at the time, he was no longer considered a suspect long ago. But twelve years later, after a new team of detectives reopened the case, he was charged with first degree murder.
There was no physical evidence, but prosecutors painted him as a hothead who hated hackers.
The University of Michigan Innocence Clinic, which works on suspected wrongful conviction cases, was looking into the matter when an old 30-page file from the original investigation was discovered in the sheriff’s office. She pointed to another suspect, Thomas Dillon of Magnolia, Ohio. This information was not shared with Titus’ attorney during the trial and this is a fundamental violation.
Two producers of the “Undisclosed” podcast questioned Titus’ involvement in the murders and Dillon’s possible role in the case. One of the producers saw the file in the sheriff’s office and reported it to the Innocence Clinic.
Dillon died in prison in 2011. He was arrested in 1993 and pleaded guilty to the murders of five people in Ohio who were hunting, fishing, or jogging between 1989 and 1992.
According to Getting, who was not involved in the case at the time, the trial had serious flaws and people who testified in 2002 had died in the meantime.
“I don’t know who in the end is Mr. Estes and A. Bennett,” Jing said. “But I can say with 100 per cent certainty that to proceed with the trial of Mr. Titus now would utterly lack the essential fairness which our Constitution requires.”
Innocent man released from US prison after 33 years: ‘I always believed ‘the day’ would come’
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