Handyman arraigned in attempted murder of Farms interior designer

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published March 15, 2016

 At right, Grosse Pointe Farms Detective Bryan Ford leads suspect David Scott Corzilius into Farms Municipal Court March 11 for a hearing.

At right, Grosse Pointe Farms Detective Bryan Ford leads suspect David Scott Corzilius into Farms Municipal Court March 11 for a hearing.

Photo by K. Michelle Moran

GROSSE POINTE FARMS — A handyman who cleaned gutters and performed other odd jobs for well-known interior designer Daniel Clancy, 69, is suspected of stabbing him in the neck during a violent attack the afternoon of March 6 at Clancy’s home on Voltaire Place.

David Scott Corzilius, 49, of Warren, stands accused of nearly killing his employer during an alleged dispute and robbery gone wrong. 

Corzilius was arraigned March 11 in Farms Municipal Court in front of Grosse Pointe Woods Municipal Court Judge Ted Metry, who was sitting in for Farms Municipal Court Judge Matthew Rumora. Corzilius was charged with assault with intent to murder, armed robbery, first-degree home invasion, felonious assault with a dangerous weapon, unlawful imprisonment and larceny in a building, and he could spend the rest of his life behind bars if convicted.

Corzilius’ attorney, Tim Doty — a childhood friend of Corzilius’ brother — entered a not guilty plea on his client’s behalf and is expected to argue that Corzilius stabbed Clancy in self-defense.

Farms Detective Lt. Richard Rosati told the court that police received a 911 call around 4:13 p.m. March 6 about a man lying on the sidewalk, bleeding profusely, and going in and out of consciousness in the area of Voltaire Place and Vendome Road. A passer-by who happened to be walking in the neighborhood spotted the victim and called police, who rushed Clancy to St. John Hospital and Medical Center — a Level 1 trauma center — where doctors performed emergency surgery on him to repair his windpipe.

“He had completely bled out by the time he got to the hospital,” Rosati said of Clancy after the hearing, who was “within seconds of death” when doctors began to work on him. Rosati praised the medical team at St. John for their efforts to save Clancy. Police also said that the passer-by who spotted Clancy and contacted them stumbled onto the scene just in time, and that if she had been walking by only a few minutes later, Clancy would most likely have been dead by the time first responders reached him.

When police arrived, they said Clancy was able to tell them, “David did this” before he lost consciousness, Rosati told the court. Through their investigation, police found a local woman who told them Clancy had recommended a gutter cleaner named David to her. Because she had written a check to Corzilius for payment, Rosati said police finally had a last name for the suspect.

In court, Rosati said police found blood on the floor of Clancy’s home, along with discarded duct tape and an empty roll of duct tape on the kitchen floor. There were spots of blood on the floor and door, and a bronze sculpture lying on the floor in the kitchen as well, he said. Rosati said police had originally traced their way back to Clancy’s home by following his blood trail. He had been stabbed multiple times in the neck.

Corzilius wasn’t at his last known address in Warren because he had recently broken up with his girlfriend, but Rosati said police learned that he likely could be found at a home in Eastpointe, because Eastpointe police had recently had contact with him there due to a heroin overdose. Corzilius reportedly had been taken to St. John Hospital and Medical Center for treatment, which is where police found him. Rosati said the suspect “had multiple lacerations on his hands.” A resident of the Eastpointe home where Corzilius had been staying told police that Corzilius had arrived carrying a plastic bag containing two paintings. 

“(The resident) said there was blood all over the place, and (Corzilius told him) he thought he killed a guy,” Rosati said.

During one of the three interviews police conducted with Corzilius, Rosati said Corzilius confessed to having attacked Clancy. Rosati said Corzilius told police he had been at Clancy’s home March 5 to remove snow from the property, and Clancy, who Corzilius said had asked for a hug, touched Corzilius’ backside, angering the handyman. In his account to police, Rosati said Corzilius alleged that he went to Clancy’s home the next day because he “was upset about what had happened the day before” and he wanted to confront Clancy about it, but Clancy didn’t want to discuss it and pulled a knife on Corzilius, threatening the handyman. Rosati said Corzilius said that’s when he hit Clancy and attempted to restrain him with the duct tape. 

“He’s kind of saying his original motive was not to steal from the house. … I don’t know how much of that story is true or not,” Rosati said of the allegation that Clancy may have touched Corzilius inappropriately. “(Corzilius) went to settle a score, and it went bad from there.”

Police said the handyman demanded to know what was of value in the home, and Clancy pointed to a couple of paintings worth about $100,000 apiece. Corzilius reportedly told Clancy not to move and became furious when Clancy was able to get free of the tape and run outside. Rosati said Corzilius followed Clancy — who had allegedly taken the knife with him when he fled from Corzilius. Corzilius is said to have told police he tackled Clancy on the sidewalk and grabbed the knife during the struggle, punching the blade into Clancy’s neck.

“He got freaked out when he saw how much blood there was,” Rosati said of Corzilius, who allegedly stole three paintings and other valuables from Clancy’s home before leaving the scene. Two of the paintings might have been consumed in a fire that is said to have destroyed Corzilius’ vehicle — Rosati said Corzilius told police those two paintings were in a garage in Detroit, but police were unable to recover them from that location. Police were able to recover the third painting at a pawnshop in Detroit. Rosati said Corzilius told them his vehicle was stolen on March 6.

Doty said it’s his understanding that Corzilius didn’t have access to the medication he takes for his bipolar disorder. He said his client had checked himself into a psychiatric hospital prior to the alleged assault, but had been discharged roughly a week before the stabbing. Doty wasn’t sure how long his client had been without his medication before the incident. On March 8, police found Corzilius undergoing treatment for the heroin overdose in St. John’s.

Farms investigators spent several hours with prosecutors Friday before coming back to city offices with a list of charges approved against Corzilius for his arraignment.

“It was pretty clear to those in law enforcement that this brutally violent assault was not random, but the work of someone who knew Mr. Clancy,” Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a prepared statement. “The alleged actions of the defendant bear this out.”

Corzilius — who was most recently discharged from prison last October — has been incarcerated multiple times over the last 20 years for offenses including larceny and possession of a controlled substance, according to the Michigan Department of Corrections. Police say because of that, he’s now facing habitual offender fourth offense charges in addition to the other charges in connection with the March 6 stabbing. However, he doesn’t have a history of violence prior to the alleged assault on Clancy.

“Mr. Corzilius was very cooperative throughout this entire investigation,” Rosati said. “He has no other violent felonies on his record, other than this one.”

Doty concurred, noting that while Corzilius “does have a checkered past,” he has never missed a court date or not fulfilled a court mandate.

“He has a habitual opiate addiction and he has been diagnosed as bipolar,” Doty said.

In court, Doty said his client, a lifelong Macomb County resident, had the support of his mother and brother, who were trying to find a place for Corzilius to get a psychological evaluation and treatment for his addiction and bipolar disorder. He asked the judge for a reasonable bond so that Corzilius “can get out and get help” for those problems.

“He’s not a flight risk,” Doty said. “Once he’s controlling those issues, he is not (a threat to society).”

Metry disagreed.

“I think he’s a danger to society,” the judge said. “I think he’s a danger to himself.”

Corzilius was being held on a $1 million cash/surety bond. A probable cause hearing in the case was set for 8 a.m. March 23, and a preliminary examination was scheduled for 8 a.m. March 30, both in Farms Municipal Court.

Although Doty wouldn’t comment on his strategy for defending Corzilius, it’s likely that he will argue that his client — who has claimed to police that he only stabbed Clancy after Clancy pulled a knife on him — was defending himself.

“We’re looking forward to our day in court,” Doty said.

At press time, Clancy remained hospitalized and had been unable to communicate with investigators. 

Clancy “is still fighting for his life, but his condition is improving,” Rosati said. Rosati said Clancy has been intubated and in and out of consciousness during his hospitalization.