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Titus Lee takes stand in his own defense in kidnapping, rape trial

Closing arguments to begin Tuesday morning
Updated: May. 10, 2021 at 5:42 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Titus Lee, the Wilmington man accused of viciously attacking a UNCW couple in 2016, and his mother took the stand Monday as Lee’s trial on rape and kidnapping charges continued.

Ms. Lee provided an alibi for Titus at the time of the crime, and before the jurors were brought back into court Monday morning, prosecutor Connie Jordan raised concerns about Ms. Lee’s credibility.

When the jury came in, Jordan read aloud text exchanges between Ms. Lee and her son written shortly after the crime where she said she was upset with him, and that this was serious. When asked for details in court, his mother said she could not recall the context of the conversation.

Some of the text messages also alluded to stolen phones Titus Lee thought he’d left in his mother’s car. The victims said those items were stolen from their apartment during the crime. Even though he used the word stolen in his text, Lee now claims he found the phones in a garbage bag near the dumpster at his apartment complex, and kept one because he needed a phone. According to phone records presented in court, Lee began using the stolen phone through his own account just days after the crime.

Lee, his mother, and girlfriend also downloaded a Text Now application that allowed them to communicate privately, on a platform that could not be monitored or retrieved by police.

Jordan talked about a trip to Philadelphia the Lee family took the day after crime, to visit family for Thanksgiving. While they were there, prosecutors said Titus Lee performed Internet searches about the rape and kidnapping in Wilmington and also searched for information about symptoms of HIV. The prosecutor indicated that Lee had sex with a prostitute who was arrested in connection to the rape and kidnapping, and he was likely concerned about having contracted a sexually transmitted disease.

Lee takes stand in his own defense

Shortly before the lunch recess on Monday, Lee took the stand in his own defense and immediately denied being involved in the rape and kidnapping.

Prosecutors asked Lee about his rocky relationship with his girlfriend. He has criminal charges on his record from an incident in 2015 where he fired into a car she was inside after a verbal dispute. Lee testified he did not recall the incident.

Lee’s girlfriend was pregnant at the time of the 2016 rape and kidnapping, and he says she encouraged him to turn himself in after warrants were taken out for his arrest. Lee testified that he did not want to be incarcerated at a time when she was due to deliver the baby, and it’s part of why he did not turn himself in and left again for Philadelphia, where his mother had family. Text exchanges between Lee and his girlfriend say he planned to change his identity because of the outstanding warrants.

An injury to Lee’s finger is also materially significant to the case. Lee testified that he cut his finger while slicing cucumbers for his sister, and the injury required stitches at the emergency room shortly before the time of the crime. The victims have testified that their assailant had a bandaged finger. When they were forcibly taken to the ATM to withdraw money for their attacker, the ATM camera shows a man with a bandaged finger in the car.

RELATED: Former student testifies about kidnapping, rape at Wilmington apartment.

The male victim in the alleged assault previously testified that Lee, wearing a mask and wielding a gun, attacked him and his girlfriend as they were sitting on the porch of their apartment on Litchfield Way on Nov. 22, 2016. Lee lived with his mother and sister in the same apartment complex.

Lee, the victim testified, pistol-whipped him causing a wound that later required over a dozen staples to close. After that attack, the former college student testified that he was tied up in a closet while Lee raped his girlfriend.

Over the course of a crime that lasted for hours, the victims said they were driven to an ATM and forced to withdraw cash. They also had their Xbox and other electronics stolen. They said Lee told them he would find them and kill them if they called police.

Terrified, they drove all the way to the male victim’s parents house in Cherry Grove, South Carolina, for help after they said Lee finally left.

Lee was arrested weeks after the attack in Philadelphia by U.S. Marshals.

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