SNOW HILL – Pre-trial
activity in the case of one of two men charged with first-degree murder in the
beating death of a Berlin teen in May has heated up with a Worcester County
Circuit Court judge ruling positively on several motions filed by the defense
this week, but the judge has not ruled on a motion to dismiss the indictment
based on perceived shaky if not criminally false witness statements and a
not-so-veiled threat of “an elaborate cover-up.”
Fernando Angelo Musiani, 19, of Berlin, is one
of two remaining suspects charged with first-degree murder in the beating death
of Michael Harry Mitchell in the Decatur Farm community in Berlin in May. The fatal beating occurred on
May 29 when a group of individuals including Mitchell and another victim in the
case, Daniel Edward Riley, were confronted by another group of individuals in a
vehicle including Musiani and co-defendant Dominic
Richard Canale, 22, of Ocean
According to police reports, what started as a verbal altercation turned deadly
when Musiani, who was driving the vehicle, allegedly
popped the trunk to allow Canale to retrieve a baseball bat. Canale allegedly
began swinging the bat wildly at the group, first striking Riley and later
Mitchell, who reportedly came to the defense of his injured friend.
Mitchell was allegedly struck in the right temple area, which knocked him to
the ground unconscious and bleeding profusely from the head, according to
police reports. He was later pronounced dead from his injuries at AGH. Musiani, Canale and a third suspect, who was later cleared in
the case, fled the scene but were taken into custody a short time later.
In June, a Worcester County grand jury indicted Canale and Musiani on first-degree murder and other serious charges
related to the incident, but Musiani’s attorney, Paul Abu-Zaid, attempting to
dismiss the grand jury’s indictment against his client, filed several motions
The motion to dismiss the indictment states the charging documents against his
client, or any defendant for that matter, shall contain a concise and definite
statement of the essential facts of the offense with which the defendant has
been charged and, with reasonable particularity, the time and place the offense
occurred. According to Abu-Zaid’s motion, the state has failed to do so in
Musiani’s case and further suggests the prosecution is relying on flimsy
witness statements in the case.
Worcester County Circuit Court Judge Thomas C. Groton on Tuesday ruled
on several motions filed by Abu-Zaid on behalf of Musiani, but has not ruled on
the motion to dismiss the indictment. Instead, Groton ruled favorably on several of the
defense’s motions for subpoenas of tangible evidence.
For example, the court
agreed to order subpoenas from Atlantic
for the hospital records of the two victims, Mitchell, who died as a result of
his injuries, and Riley, who was injured during the altercation. The judge also
issued subpoenas for the hospital records of Bryant Timothy Gray, although it
is uncertain what Gray’s role in the incident was. Gray has not been mentioned
in any prior police reports or court documents.
In addition, the judge
ruled favorably on a defense motion to subpoena the personnel records of the
Berlin Fire Company and the Worcester County Department of Emergency Services,
although it is uncertain what the defense hopes to gain from the documents.
Finally, the judge also ruled favorably on a motion filed by the defense to
subpoena Riley’s Verizon Wireless phone records, which could provide
information about conversations leading up to the attack.