DETROIT – A jury has found the owner of a Detroit home where a firefighter died last fall battling an intentional blaze guilty of murder.
Mario Willis was convicted Thursday of second-degree murder and arson of a dwelling in connection with Nov. 15, 2008, death of Walter Harris.
Willis will be sentenced May 14.
Prosecutors said Willis paid his friend, 40-year-old Darian Dove, $20 to set the insured but abandoned home on Kirby Street on fire.
Harris died when the roof of the house caved in while he was battling the flames. Four other firefighters were injured.
Dove, a handyman, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for a minimum sentence on 17 years in prison. He will be sentenced on May 21.
Harris was 37 when he died. The Sterling Heights resident was a 17-year department veteran and father to six boys, one of whom is also a Detroit firefighter.
"He was one of our best, one of the city's best," said Detroit Homicide Detective Duane Black. "He was dedicated to the department, his family and community."