Murder trial in death of April Millsap begins

The murder trial began in the brutal killing of 14-year-old April Millsap.

The teen took her dog for a walk along a rural Macomb County trail and never came home. On Wednesday prosecutors began laying out the case against her alleged killer.

"April's head and neck, she was stomped to death," said William Dailey, assistant Macomb County prosecutor. "She was literally beaten and stomped to death."

Looking over to his family inside a Macomb County court during the first day of his trial, 34-year-old James VanCallis, listened calmly to arguments.

He is charged with first degree and felony murder, kidnapping and attempted sexual assault.

"April sent a text to her boyfriend, 'I think I almost just got kidnapped, OMFG,'" Dailey said.

April's body was found in July of 2014 in a ditch along the Macomb Orchard Trail. Prosecutors say VanCallis beat her to death with his motorcycle helmet then tried to rape her  while she was walking her dog, Penny.

"Within minutes, April is assaulted," Dailey said. "April was taken to the woods just north of the trail, and April was murdered."

When April's mother took the stand, she identified her daughter's belongings. She admits her daughter never mentioned knowing VanCallis.

"Almost a thousand tips came, all those tips," said Azhar Sheikh, defense attorney. "How many of them had to do with James VanCallis, zero. Not one." said Azhar Sheikh.
The defense argued there is no physical evidence linking VanCallis to April.

"I think if they would have waited until the lab results and the helmet results came back before charging Mr. VanCallis, we wouldn't even be here at all," said Sheikh.

The defense attorney called eyewitness testimony unreliable.

"The biggest injustice that can occur is to let the actual culprit go free," Sheikh said. "And convict an innocent man."

The defense and prosecution have about 30 witnesses each. The prosecution says the most interesting evidence will be presented Thursday.

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