Stitts v. Wilson

Federal 7th Circuit Court
Criminal Court
Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
Case Number: 
No. 12-2255
Decision Date: 
April 15, 2013
Federal District: 
S.D. Ind., Indianapolis Div.
Reversed and remanded
Dist. Ct. erred in denying defendant’s habeas petition challenging his murder conviction on grounds that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to adequately investigate potential alibi witnesses. Defendant’s alibi was that he was at nightclub at time of shooting, such that trial counsel’s interview of only one potential witness, who supported alibi but had criminal record, without exploring whether others at nightclub could provide credible alibi testimony, was unreasonable. Moreover, counsel’s failure to conduct further investigation was prejudicial where two govt. witnesses, who placed defendant at scene of crime, had inconsistencies in their testimonies. Remand, though, was required for further determination as to extent of trial counsel’s investigation of defendant’s alibi claim.