BERLIN – More details emerged this week in the beating death of a Berlin teen last Thursday including the arrests of three local teens allegedly involved in the murder.
According to police reports, a group of individuals including the victim, Michael Harry Mitchell, 19, of Berlin, and Daniel Edward Riley were sitting on a porch at a residence on President Circle in the Decatur Farms community drinking beer and smoking cigarettes early last Thursday morning when a 1990 Oldsmobile sedan carrying another group drove up and asked them if there was a party going on. When told there was not, the group in the car got out and approached the group on the porch and the conversation turned from questioning to a verbal altercation, which soon turned physical, according to police reports.
The driver of the Oldsmobile, identified as Angelo Fernando Musiani, 19, of Berlin, allegedly popped the trunk of his car to allow one of the other combatants, identified as Dominic Richard Canale, to get a baseball bat. Canale allegedly began swinging the bat wildly at the other group, striking Riley and knocking him to the ground.
When Mitchell came to the aid of his friend, he was allegedly struck by Canale in the right temple area, which knocked him to the ground unconscious and causing him to bleed profusely from the head, according to police reports. Musiani, Canale and another suspect, identified as Eric Ronald Hewitt, 19, of Ocean City, got back in the car and sped off. According to police reports, members of the group inside the vehicle were heard yelling “Dom Dom, get in the vehicle.”
Around 4:30 a.m., a 911 call was received in reference to an unconscious, unresponsive subject at President Circle and Dueling Way in Decatur Farms, and when paramedics arrived, they discovered Mitchell lying in the street and bleeding profusely from the head while others were administering CPR. The paramedics took over the care of Mitchell and continued to administer CPR as the victim was loaded into an ambulance and transported to Atlantic General Hospital.
Mitchell was later pronounced dead from his injuries at AGH. Riley was also transported to AGH where he was treated for a broken nose, which he sustained from being hit in the face with a baseball bat, allegedly by Canale.
Meanwhile, Berlin Police in the area observed the Oldsmobile driving erratically and were about to pull the vehicle over when they got the call about an unconscious man lying in the street in Decatur Farms. Not knowing at the time the vehicle contained the possible suspects, Berlin Police abandoned the traffic stop and responded immediately to the crime scene.
The Worcester County Bureau of Investigation (WCBI) arrived on the scene and took over the investigation. After interviewing witnesses, WCBI detectives received numerous tips and leads about who was involved in the incident, but had exhausted many of the leads and were coming up empty, according to police reports. Early on, the investigation focused on Musiani, who was identified as the driver of the car, and Hewitt, whose direct involvement in the attack was not known, and they were soon taken into custody.
Detectives still did not know who the assailant who fatally swung the bat was, but eventually learned from witnesses it was Canale. Not long after identifying Canale as the alleged assailant, detectives got a call from the Maryland State Police that private investigator Doug Cymek had an individual in his presence that wanted to turn himself in for the incident at Decatur Farms.
While at the Ocean City District Court Commissioner’s office with Musiani and Hewitt, detectives observed the private detective enter the courtroom with Canale and a state trooper. Cymek told detectives he was there to make sure Canale was not interviewed as he was acting on behalf of an attorney representing the suspect.
As a result of the investigation, a photo line-up was prepared and Canale was positively identified by all witnesses as the person responsible for striking and killing Mitchell and striking Riley with the bat. Canale has been charged with first-degree murder and first- and second-degree assault and is being held without bond. Musiani has also been charged with first-degree murder and first- and second-degree assault and was first ordered held without bond, but his bail was set at $1 million later this week.
Hewitt, whose exact role in the attack is not known, has been charged with two counts of second-degree assault and is being held on a $75,000 bond. Each of the three suspects has a preliminary hearing set for June 27 in District Court in Snow Hill.
Hewitt is no stranger to the local court system. In fact, next week he is scheduled to appear for trial in Circuit Court for his involvement in a burglary in Ocean City last May. In that case, resort police rounded up four suspects in the break-in and one of them later entered a plea bargain, exchanging a softer sentence for information about the other three including Hewitt.