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justice for mario willis


The legal team of Mario Willis, including experts, have conducted a thorough and compelling investigation of Mr. Willis' innocence. Recorded and published on this site are many aspects of the case brought against Mario, post-conviction we have acquired a multitude of information based on the circumstances within this case, and newly discovered evidence that confirms Mario’s unjust incarceration.  Our call to action is to bring awareness and accountability to the circumstances that contributed to flawed fact-finding, false testimony, suppressed evidence and police misconduct throughout the case against Mario Willis as set forth on this site. After reviewing the following information, it is our hope that you will want to help by participating in the following as we work to win Mario’s freedom!

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3. Contributing to the legal fund

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Blue Surface


A message from Mario Willis

"....The Lord sets prisoners free."


~Psalm 146:7

Blue Surface


  • Mario Willis was found guilty in April of 2010 of second-degree murder and arson of a dwelling. Darian Dove, an ex-employee of Mario's testified, his boss (Mario) paid him $20 to burn a house located on Detroit's Eastside for insurance money. Mr. Dove was the prosecution's key and only witness. A first responder died while clearing the scene of the fire.

  • Darian Dove initially told Detroit Police the fire was an accident. It wasn't until Darian Dove faced a 1st-degree murder charge; Also, instructed by detectives that the blame had to be placed on the right person when Dove implicated Mario.

  • Dove's testimony at trial was so contradictory, inconsistent, and contrary to the physical evidence to be inherently unreliable. Dove's false testimony led to Mario's conviction.

  • After Mario’s conviction, Dove provided an affidavit recanting his trial testimony, which states, Mario had nothing to do with the fire he is currently serving time for or any fire and that the 2008 fire was an accident which Dove made known to detectives several times.

  • From 2010 until the present date, expert forensic, physical, and witness evidence has been obtained/discovered and well documented, confirming Darian Dove's original statements that the 2008 fire was an accident. The documents are all supported by evidence and investigative findings.

  • The prosecution and the Detroit Police withheld vital video evidence in the case against Mario Willis. The lead detective provided false testimony misleading the jury, stating, "Mario nor Megan (alibi witness) made Mario's whereabouts known to any investigator throughout Detroit Police or fire investigations."

  • The prosecution's fire expert from the Detroit Fire Department Arson division misled the jury, stating during his testimony that they found gasoline in a location it was not. This false testimony established an erroneous scenario as to how the 2008 fire started.

  • Since Mario's conviction, his prison sentence has been vacated (3) times by the Michigan Court of Appeals due to the trial court not supporting the multiple sentences imposed legally.

  • Mario is still on the first appeal as of right, awaiting a decision from the Michigan Court of Appeals concerning the latest judgment placed on him at his 4th re-sentencing hearing held January 2021.

  • Mario has recently submitted an application to the Wayne County Criminal Integrity Unit seeking accountability for the miscarriage of justice he has suffered. Please read "The Case For Innocence of Mario Willis," prepared by Attorney Craig Daly for complete understanding.

What Happened?


by Attorney Craig Daly:

Case for Innocence
Blue Surface

Alibi Defense & Excerpts of Interrogation Interviews 


Excerpts from (3) interrogation interviews between Megan and Detroit Police Detective; Mario and Detroit Police Detective; and withheld interview with Mario and Arson Lt. Simms showing that the Detroit Police Department and the Detroit Fire Department were made aware of the information provided within Mario’s alibi defense as early as November 19, 2008.

Alibi & Interrogation
Summary of Expert Findings


Glass Buildings

Mario didn’t have any experts on behalf of his defense for an independent review of information provided. The trial attorney’s misjudgment in counsel subsequently was detrimental to Mario’s defense. Please see the expert reports obtained after Mario’s conviction below:



Dr. Ljubisa Dragovic: 

Chief Pathologist for Oakland County

Post-conviction, Mario’s legal team discovered the firefighter’s complete autopsy findings did not get admitted into evidence at the time of the trial. The team had all records subpoenaed. Upon receipt of the complete medical records, the legal team consulted with Dr. Ljubisa Dragovic, Forensic/Pathologist Chief Medical Examiner for Oakland County, Michigan.


Dr. Dragovic provided an analysis with an opinion that showed the examination by Wayne County Medical Examiner, Dr. John Bechinski was incomplete. In addition, Dr. Dragovic learned that the firefighter’s medical records revealed his body was in the absence of any trauma. Therefore, the narrative that the roof crushed the firefighter was not corroborated by any physical evidence. Wayne County Medical Examiner, Dr. Bechinski further failed to properly consider the firefighter’s pre-existing heart disease and congestive heart failure.


Medical Examiner Dr. Bechinski’s (Wayne County) opinion at trial was that the manner of death of the firefighter was a homicide. The cause of death was “Mechanical Asphyxia” because heavyweight on the chest and upper abdomen preventing him from breathing were inaccurate and misleading.


Chief Medical Examiner/Chief Forensic Pathologist of Oakland County, Dr. Dragovic, concluded the firefighter’s death should have been classified as an accident, not a homicide. In conclusion, he opined that the statutory and professional obligation had not been met in the original investigation of the firefighter's death.


Kenneth M. Korotkin:

KIG Insurance Group

Insurance expert Kenneth Korotkin reviewed all mortgage and insurance documents concerning a property located on East Kirby in Detroit Michigan owned by Megan Daniel, the then girlfriend of Mario Willis. Mr. Korotkin’s report stated that Mario Willis nor Megan Daniel would have received any financial benefit or cash payout from the fire on E. Kirby in 2008. The home had Forced Placed insurance coverage which protects the mortgage company only, not the homeowner. At the time of the fire, there was no homeowners insurance on the property located on E. Kirby.


Dirk L. Hedglin, Forensic Chemist:

Forensic Consulting & Analytical, Inc.

Darian Dove gave conflicting statements and testimony about how the fire started. Dove said the fire was an accident when he kicked over a gas can that he kept on the second floor. Once the fire started, he unsuccessfully tried to put it out. The arson investigator testified that the fire originated in multiple areas, including the interior walls. After consulting with Forensic Chemist, Dirk Hedglin, who reviewed all materials and wood samples he concluded that the forensic findings of the fire are consistent, in fact, with an accidental fire.


Seventeen days after Mario’s conviction, Darian Dove wrote a five page recantation letter stating that Mario Willis did not pay him to set the November 15, 2008 fire or any other fire. Darian stated it was an accident and he told the detectives this on several different occasions. Darian Dove also stated that the police insisted on their narrative that Mario paid him to set the fire. It was a possibility that Darian could potentially be absolved of any crime if he agreed on the narrative set in place. After both the Trial Court and the Court of Appeals refused Dove’s post conviction admission, Mario’s legal team hired a private investigator to meet with Dove while incarcerated. The Private Investigator obtained a sworn affidavit from Dove where he again recanted his trial testimony, stating Mario did not pay him to set the fire.


The affidavit of Valorie Ann Williams, Dove’s then live-in girlfriend, supports not just that Mario did not pay him to set the fire. It also contradicts his testimony at trial that Willis picked him up on November 15, 2008, at home for Dove to set the fire on E. Kirby. What’s of significance, is Valorie Williams stated, that when detectives came to the house to speak to Dove in 2009, he told her to lie about her name. Detroit detectives were aware at that time that Valorie was Dove’s live-in girlfriend, just as she was when Dove made the statement, Mario picked him up. Interestingly enough, the detectives neglected to question or obtain a statement from Valorie Williams (an alleged eyewitness) to corroborate Dove’s story.


In the affidavit of Walter Collier obtained post-conviction, Mr. Collier had sworn that while an inmate at the Wayne County Jail in Detroit, Michigan, Dove told him he was with a female when the fire took place on E. Kirby in 2008, and the fire was an accident. In addition, Mr. Collier also stated that Dove said he testified against Mario to get back at him for giving his name to the police.


An inmate housed with Darian Dove, Nikemo Burton, was familiar with Dove from their old neighborhood. While housed together at a correctional facility, Dove told Nikemo, he was at E. Kirby with a female; they were getting high, and he made a mistake and started a fire. They (Dove and a female friend) called 911 and left. The sworn affidavit of Walter Collier is consistent with the statement made by Nikemo Burton.

Evidence and facts clearly show, Mario’s conviction was a rush to judgement and a grave miscarriage of justice.



Hearing Videos
View Mario Speaking before the Judge 2018 & 2021
Court House

Court Hearing Video 2018


Court Hearing Video 2021

News Cameras

This high profile case has received extensive media coverage also reporting on the many times this case has been sent back to the trial court.

Marble Surface

Court again overturns 41-year sentence in fireman’s death - AP News

February 5, 2018

Marble Surface

New Sentence ordered in case of Detroit firefighter’s 2008 death - Detroit Free Press

April 20, 2020

Marble Surface

Appeals court again overturns 41-year sentence in Detroit fireman’s death.

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