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Firefighter's Killer Could Get 62 Years Behind Bars

Firefighter's Killer Could Get 62 Years Behind Bars

Mario Willis

Detroit Free Press via YellowBrix

May 22, 2010

Detroit — A Detroit businessman was sentenced to 41 2/3 to 62 years in prison today for causing the death of a firefighter who was trying to extinguish an arson blaze.

Mario Willis, 27, had faced up to life in prison when sentenced by Wayne County Circuit Judge Michael Callahan. Willis, who was once honored by the City Council with a Spirit of Detroit award, was convicted of second-degree murder and arson of a dwelling April 30. Walter Harris, a 19-year veteran of the Detroit Fire Department, was killed Nov. 15, 2008, when the roof of the burning house on Kirby Street collapsed.

Dorian Dove, a 41-year-old Detroiter who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, testified Willis paid him $20 to set the fire.

The arson was apparently an attempt to collect on a $26,000 insurance plan on the house. During Willis’ trial, testimony revealed Willis had sold the property in 2006 to his fiancée. The mortgage and property taxes were $9,600 in arrears when the home burned. Dove was sentenced to 17 to 30 years in prison as part of a plea deal with prosecutors.