MT. CLEMONS, Mich. (WJBK) - A jury found him guilty of murdering 14-year-old April Millsap and leaving her body on the side of a Macomb County bike path. On Wednesday he'll be sentenced and said on Tuesday that he plans to give a message to the judge.
James VanCallis says he's innocent. He said the jury that convicted him of murdering the Armada got it all wrong when they deliberated for just six hours in February. Prosecutors successfully argued that VanCallis killed Millsap when he hit her with his motorcycle helmet and then stomped on her neck along the Macomb Orchard Trail back in July of 2014. The jury believed the evidence but VanCallis said they got it wrong.
"First off, I'm innocent," he said on Tuesday. "I've been quiet this time. Thinking I would get a fair day in court. obviously that didn't play out."
VanCallis talked only with FOX 2's Charlie Langton just a day before he was set to be sentenced after being convicted last month of first-degree murder; felony murder; kidnapping; and assault with intent to commit sexual penetration.
"They got the wrong person and the real perpetrator is out there," VanCallis said. "They [the two witnesses] didn't see me. After they arrested me on marijuana, they all changed their story."
VanCallis also talked about the testimony of his ex-girlfriend, Krystal. She testified that she saw him cleaning his shoes the night of April's murder. He believes she was coached and had a reason for cleaning his shoes - and it wasn't murder.
"She was basically coached into saying what she said. You could see that right from the gate. As far as cleaning my tennis shoes, I was cleaning my tennis shoes. When I came home that night, I stepped in dog feces and I wiped it off in the grass and then I set them outside. Later, I came out to retrieve them and I was actually cleaning them," VanCallis said.
His mom, Brenda Pupi, said not only was his ex coached, but police also used her children as motivation to get her to say what they wanted her to say.
"If you're with James you need to tell us who you want to take care of your children. She said what do you mean? They said they're going to deploy an officer to pick your kids up," Pupi said.
The prosecutor said a bruise on April matched the impression on VanCallis' motorcycle helmet. However, there was not any DNA, fingerprint, or blood evidence presented in his two week trial.
FOX 2 reached out to the Milsap family but they said they prefer to speak at sentencing Wednesday morning. VanCallis, however, had something he wanted to say to them.
"I would say that I'm sorry for their loss. I hope that they catch who did this, it's a horrible thing that has happened. She didn't get justice because they got the wrong person and the real perpetrator is out there," he said.
VanCallis and the family will be in court for his sentencing on Wednesday. No matter what VanCallis says about the conviction and why he says he's innocent, he cannot appeal for the judge's leniency. She is bound to sentence him to life in prison without parole.