By ANDREA POTEET
Sunday Times Newspapers
Three people formerly suspected in a Riverview double homicide were awarded more than $1 million in a lawsuit against several Downriver communities.
According to published reports, the last of the lawsuits, for false arrest and imprisonment, were settled against Riverview Feb. 24. Farmington Hills-based law firm Johnson, Rosati, LaBarge, Aseltyne & Field notified the city that the cases had been concluded March 24.
Alicia Hartner, Phillip Morris and Michael Wellwood were originally suspects in the 2008 murders of Riverview residents Dennis Langley and Jack Mascow, who were both 61. The trio spent 10 months in jail before Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy dismissed the charges, saying it had been discovered that two main prosecution witnesses had given untruthful testimony. Investigation revealed their statements were inconsistent with evidence in the case, a 2008 press release from the Prosecutor’s Office said.
Doyle Palmer, then 41, of Lincoln Park, was arrested while the three were awaiting trial and was convicted based on forensic evidence.
Dearborn, Brownstown Township, Wyandotte and the Michigan State Police already have settled lawsuits from the former suspects.
Firefighters discovered the bodies of Langley and Mascow on Feb. 27, 2008, while fighting a house fire at 20685 Coachwood in Riverview. Fire Chief Timothy Bosman said at the time that an accelerant was used to start the house fire, as well as a blaze in a van owned by Langley found two blocks away at Strohm and Edsel in Trenton.
The victims lived in the house together. Hartner’s mother once had dated Langley, and Hartner once lived with him. Police alleged in the wake of the murders that Hartner had organized the crime because she knew where money was kept in the house.
While in custody, Hartner, then 18, confessed to the crime and implicated then-19-year-old Wellwood, her boyfriend at the time, and then-22-year-old Morris, who she alleged provided a car. Wyandotte police officers, who participated in the investigation as part of the Downriver Major Crime Task Force, did not tape the confession, as their facility at the time did not have the technology.
No physical evidence was found to tie any of the three former suspects to the crime.
Officers from the other cities mentioned in the suit also assisted in the investigation as part of the task force.
Dearborn paid a total of $5,000 to the plaintiffs. Riverview paid $260,000 to Wellwood, $225,000 to Morris, and $175,000 to Hartner. Wyandotte paid $150,000 each to Wellwood and Morris, and $100,000 to Hartner. Amounts paid by the other cities involved are not known.