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At 17, Louis Ethelbert Whitsitt, a bright, brown-eyed Michigan lad with good schooling and a job, seemed headed in the right direction. Then, one night in 1933, he went dead wrong. With his big brother and two other fellows, he kidnapped and robbed a Detroit man named Joseph Nesbitt, watched one of the gang shoot the victim and leave him to die by the roadside.

At 23, Louis Ethelbert Whitsitt, now Convict No. 34,234 in Southern Michigan State Prison at Jackson, still has considerable time to serve. He got life for the murder, 45...

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