A former special investigator for the Justice Department was found not guilty Wednesday of robbery and conspiracy charges in the McDonald’s robbery case.
The jury hearing the case of the armed robbery at Mc Donald’s Restaurant at Lockhart Gardens Shopping Center delivered the verdict acquitting 36-year-old Troy Titley around 2 p.m., Wednesday.
Titley had been charged with Hobbs Act Robbery and two local charges – first-degree robbery and conspiracy. Investigators accused the defendant of supplying a vehicle used to transport armed robbers to the eatery.
One of the gunmen, Juan de Dios, 17, died at the scene during a confrontation with police.
District Court Judge Curtis Gomez turned the case over to the jury for deliberations around 4 p.m. Tuesday, at the end of a two day trial. Legal teams and courtroom observers waited until 8 p.m. Tuesday in anticipation of a verdict, but no verdict came. Gomez sent jurors home and told them to resume at 9 a.m.
Once jurors re-entered the courtroom, it took three minutes to declare Titley not guilty.
Defense attorney Carl Williams said his client turned to him and said, “thank you.”
Then Titley left the courtroom, a free man.
Over the course of two days the jury heard testimony from Titley’s co-defendants, participants in the March 25 armed robbery, police standoff and hostage taking. All testified they signed plea deals, which encouraged them to cooperate with federal prosecutors.
But the testimony provided by Angel Guerrero Belen, Bethel Rosario and Junior Feliz did not place Titley at the scene of the crime. Feliz, the driver, admitted under questioning by Williams that he lied to investigators when asked for details of the robbery after his arrest.
Rosario, a native of the Dominican Republic, was also confronted about conflicting statements he made.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Fisanick questioned the witness about which version of the truth he was using on the witness stand.
“Today I’m telling the truth,” Rosario said.
“Why did you give a different statement to police?” Fisanick asked.
“Because at the time I was afraid that something would happen to my family,” the witness said.
“Did anyone in particular scare you?” the prosecutor asked.
“Who was that?”
“My friend who died,” Rosario said.
In closing arguments Williams attacked the prosecution. He said they did not place his client at the scene of the robbery. There were no forensic evidence, no phone records and no corroborating evidence placing Titley in the picture.
“This case was about two things, insufficient evidence and blind faith in the story of Junior Feliz,” Williams said.
But lead prosecutor Sigrid Tejo-Sprotte said Titley had a motive for supplying a getaway car.
“Junior Feliz offered to give his friend money. He did it because he knew there would be something in it for him,” Tejo-Sprotte said.
Over the course of an evening and a morning, jurors thought it over, and in the end, the defense prevailed.