Man charged in Millsap death ordered to trial
Romeo — The Goodells man charged with killing 14-year-old April Millsap as she walked her dog along a nature trail in July was ordered Tuesday to stand trial in her death.
A hearing held Monday and Tuesday before Romeo District Judge Denis LeDuc determined there was enough evidence to bind James VanCallis, 32, over on murder charges in the case.
VanCallis faces three charges: first-degree premeditated murder and felony murder, both of which carry a maximum penalty of life in prison, and assault with the intent to commit sexual penetration.
VanCallis will be arraigned Dec. 29.
LeDuc cited credible eyewitnesses' "very strong (and) very clear" identification of VanCallis as the man seen with Millsap shortly before she was found dead. The judge also noted the fitness app that was a GPS for the girl's phone. The cellphone had activity and movement at the same time a lone motorcycle traveled past surveillance cameras in a residential area July 24.
VanCallis' attorney Azhar Sheikh said there is no DNA evidence linking his client to the girl's murder.
Millsap died of blunt head trauma and asphyxia due to neck compression, according to the Macomb County Medical Examiner's Office. She had 48 other blunt force injuries to her body.
Macomb County prosecutor Eric Smith said April Millsap's cellphone, which showed she fought for her life for 15 minutes, gave investigators a "heartbreaking" piece of evidence trying to solve her murder.
"She clearly helped us in our case by activating her fitness app (on her cellphone) ... led us to the fact that whoever killed her was operating on a motorized vehicle motor," Smith said Tuesday following the preliminary examination. "April, in her own way, helped lead us to where we're at."
Smith said while there is no DNA evidence, he feels confident witness accounts from July 24 will help prosecutors in their case.
"We know that the defendant was identified on a 10 out of 10 scale by two very credible eyewitnesses on the path. One's an engineer and one's a college professor and they could not have been more clear about their identification," he said.
Jordan gym shoes believed to have caused imprints on the young victim's face and neck area have not been found. And, said Smith, the helmet investigators believe the girl was struck with did not yield any DNA evidence.
Earlier Tuesday, VanCallis' former longtime girlfriend said he asked her to lie to police about the case. Krystal Stadler testified he told her to tell police he was wearing a different pair of shoes the day the teen was killed.
"Tell 'em I was wearing K-Swiss shoes," Stadler said.
Stadler also testified VanCallis, with whom she has a 3-year-old son, told her hours after the teen's killing that he had "messed up and he needs me to stand by his side."
Stadler said she awakened around 3 a.m. July 25 to find VanCallis cleaning his black and white Jordan gym shoes with hand sanitizer. She said he was wearing the Jordans when he left the family's home in Goodells around 5:30 p.m. July 24 and not the K-Swiss shoes he told police he had been wearing.
Police say VanCallis was planning to rape Millsap when he confronted her on the trail, but a witness interrupted him.
The girl rebuffed VanCallis and walked away, but he followed and ambushed her from behind, using his helmet as a weapon, according to authorities, who say VanCallis moved the girl into a wooded area, where he beat and stomped her.