MI Supreme Court rules against Titus in murder case

Jeff Titus
A 2014 mug shot of Jeff Titus.

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan Supreme Court won’t take up the case of Jeff Titus, who was convicted of killing two hunters near his land in November 1990.

Attorneys for Titus had appealed to the Supreme Court after the Court of Appeals ruled in May that the Kalamazoo County man was not entitled to a new trial.

But the Supreme Court issued an order on Tuesday, denying Titus’s appeal, “because we are not persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed by this Court.”

Titus, 64, is serving life in prison for killing two Doug Estes and Jim Bennett in November 1990 in a state game area next to his property.

Doug Estes and Jim Bennett
Left: Doug Estes. Right: Jim Bennett.

David Moran, of the Michigan Innocence Clinic, had argued that Titus’s original defense attorney failed him during the trial.

The biggest mistake, according to the appeal: That the defense team failed to interview the original detectives, who had cleared Titus based in part on alibi witnesses.

A cold-case team picked up the investigation a decade later, without the original detectives or the alibi witnesses.

A Kalamazoo County jury convicted Titus in 2002.

Titus is a former U.S. Marine who served from 1971 to 1977 and retired as a sergeant first class, according to military records. In the early 70s, he was assigned to help protect Marine One for President Richard Nixon. He served in the Army National Guard from 1985 to 2001.

At the time of the murders, he was married, had two kids and was working security at the VA Hospital in Battle Creek. He had no criminal record.

It was the original detectives who reached out to the Innocence Clinic on Titus’s behalf.