Friday, June 20 – Grand Jury Indicts 2 For Murder

SNOW HILL – A Worcester County Grand Jury last week formally indicted two of the three suspects held in the beating death of a Berlin teen with a baseball bat last month.

The grand jury last Thursday indicted Dominic Richard Canale, 22, on charges of first- and second-degree murder, one count of first-degree assault, two counts of second-degree assault and two counts of reckless endangerment for his part in the May 29 beating death of Michael Harry Mitchell, 19, of Berlin, and the wounding of Daniel Edward Riley. The grand jury also indicted Fernando Anthony Musiani, 19, of Berlin, on charges of first- and second-degree murder, first-degree assault, second-degree assault, accessory before the fact and accessory after the fact for his role in the fatal attack.

A third suspect, Eric Hewitt, 19, of Ocean City, was also arrested after the incident and charged with two counts of second-degree assault for his part in the attacks, although it does not appear the grand jury took his case into consideration. Hewitt is still scheduled for a preliminary hearing in District Court in Snow Hill next Friday.

The fatal beating occurred on May 29 when a group of individuals including Mitchell and Riley were sitting on a porch at a residence on President Circle in the Decatur Farm community in Berlin 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.

The verbal altercation soon turned physical, according to police reports, and at some point, the driver of the Oldsmobile, identified as Musiani, popped the trunk of his car to allow one of the other combatants, identified as Canale, to get out 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 Riley, he was allegedly struck by Canale in the right temple area, which knocked him to the ground unconscious and bleeding profusely from the head, according to police reports. Musiani, Canale and another suspect, identified Hewitt, got back in the car and sped off.

Around 4:30 a.m., Worcester Central received a 911 call in reference to an unconscious, unresponsive subject at President Circle and Dueling Way in Decatur Farm, and when paramedics arrived, they discovered Mitchell lying in the street and bleeding profusely from the head while others were administering CPR. 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.

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 at the time still did not know the identity of the assailant who fatally swung the bat, but eventually learned from witnesses it was Canale, who later turned himself in to police in the presence of a private investigator at the District Court building where Musiani and Hewitt were being held.