Saturday, June 25, 2022

‘Gratuitous in its evil’: District attorney releases statement on guilty verdict in Titus Lee trial

Titus Lee was found guilt for kidnapping, rape and sex offenses perpetrated on two UNCW students in 2016. (Port City Daily/Courtesy New Hanover County Sheriff’s Department)

WILMINGTON — A man accused of attacking two UNCW students in 2016 was sentenced up to 182 years in prison after a three-week trial culminated in guilty charges.

On Wednesday, a New Hanover County jury found 23-year-old Titus Lee guilty of kidnapping, rape, and sex offenses during a burglary that happened five years ago. In a statement, District Attorney Ben David thanked, among other key players in the case, the jury for their work in poring over 465 exhibits.

“Rape is a crime of violence and the Honorable Frank Jones gave the only appropriate sentence,” the DA said. “Titus Lee will spend the rest of his life in prison. For the career prosecutors and detectives who handled this case, few of us can remember a worse crime of violence where the victims survived to testify. This was a hate-filled hours long crime spree that was gratuitous in its evil.”

According to WECT, the accounts in court have been stirring. A couple was robbed at gunpoint at their home while sitting on a balcony at Litchfield Way after their attacker leapt across the railing. At the time, Lee also lived in Litchfield Way with his mother and sister.

The male victim testified in April he was bound and pistol-whipped before being pushed into a closet while the assailant raped his girlfriend. The victim also said the event lasted for hours, as the perpetrator robbed their home of electronics and drove them to an ATM to withdraw cash — along the way picking up a woman on Market Street, who was also charged with two counts of first-degree kidnapping, robbery with a dangerous weapon and conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon.

The victim described how the attacker made them clean the apartment, including laundering a comforter, so no trace of DNA would be left behind, according to WECT.

“All of us are inspired by the bravery of the victims and their families who have lived among us at this courthouse for the last month,” David wrote in a statement. “Their courage to testify ensures that no other victims will suffer in the future.”

Lee was apprehended by U.S. Marshals in Philadelphia in December 2016. He was in possession of stolen items from the crime scene, including the victim’s cellphone, and charged with two counts of kidnapping, two counts of first-degree rape, robbery with a dangerous weapon, and first-degree burglary. Lee pleaded not guilty and said he found the phone in a dumpster. During the trial, he took the stand, as did his mother to provide an alibi.

Lee was found guilty for the events of November 22, 2016, and sentenced to 126 to 182 years in prison.

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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