James VanCallis found guilty on all 4 counts in April Millsap murder

James VanCallis was found guilty on all four counts in the murder of 14-year-old April Millsap.

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After deliberating for six hours, a jury has found James VanCallis guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Armada teen April Millsap.

The 34-year-old was found guilty on all four charges, including first-degree murder; felony murder; kidnapping; and assault with intent to commit sexual penetration. His sentencing date is scheduled for March 30, 2016. 

Prosecutors argued that VanCallis hit Millsap, 14, with his motorcycle helmet then stomped on her neck along the Macomb Orchard Trail back in July of 2014. 

Closing arguments were held Friday, while the decision came after six hours of deliberations by the 12 men and women who asked to look at more than 20 exhibits as over three weeks the prosecution presented nearly 200 pieces of evidence.

VanCallis did not take the stand in his defense and his attorney did not call any witnesses. His attorneys argued there was no DNA evidence tying VanCallis to Millsap's murder.

VanCallis' ex-girlfriend took the stand and testified that she saw him using sanitizer on his shoes in the middle of the night after the attack happened. She also testified that he asked her to lie to police about what he was wearing the night of the murder.

Two witnesses also said they saw VanCallis on the trail the same day Millsap was killed. Prosecutors also used cell phone tracking to place him in the area that day. 

VanCallis' parents, along with April's mother, declined comment Monday but friends speaking on behalf of the Millsap family shared their relief at the verdict. 

"From the bottom of their hearts, they are just so relieved at this verdict," said Jessie Kanhal, friend of the Millsaps. "It is a just and fair verdict."

The family also thanked the community for so much support in a murder that hit the small town of Armada so hard.

"She is with her family," Kanhal said. "And they are taking the time to digest this verdict and feel like they are going to get some sense of closure, and to feel like they may get some sense of closure although . Although April is not going to be here with us.  She is not going home with them today because of what happened to her on that fateful day."

The defense said that VanCallis was in shock when the verdict was read. Sentencing is scheduled for March 30.

 

 


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