41ºF

VanCallis' ex-girlfriend tesifies in trial for April Millsap's murder

MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. – Testimony continued Friday in the trial for the man who is charged with killing Armada teen April Millsap.

Millsap was walking her dog on the Macomb Orchard Trail in July 2014 when she was killed. Her body was found a few feet off the trail by a passerby.

The jury on Wednesday heard from a witness who shared the trail with Millsap the day she was killed.

Bicyclist William Buchanan testified that he recalled seeing a motorcyclist in a helmet, and vividly remembers the man’s eyes. He also testified that he saw a young girl walking the opposite direction entering a tunnel of trees less than 40 feet away, but he could not identify her as Millsap.

He identified defendant James VanCallis in court as being the man he saw.

VanCallis’ attorney, Azhar Sheik, had him put his helmet on to create doubt from the jury on a positive identification because VanCallis’  face would have been partially covered. But Buchanan said he still knew.

“I could still see the eyes and the sharp features,” Buchanan said.

Amy Spinell also testified that she was on the trail the same day and saw Millsap’s dog, Penny, and a man on a motorcycle with a black helmet. She could not positively identify VanCallis.

On Tuesday, the jury heard from the police chief about the investigation into the 14-year-old’s death and a medical examiner, who said Millsap died from asphyxiation and blunt force trauma.

VanCallis is charged with murder, kidnapping and criminal sexual assault. His attorney says there's no DNA evidence linking him to the crime.

The jury has also heard testimony from Millsap's mother, an FBI investigator, a witness who said he saw Millsap talking to a man on a motorcycle, the man who found her body and several first responders to the scene.

Friday's testimony:

On Friday, VanCallis' ex-girlfriend, Crystal Stadler, took the stand and described their living conditions and relationship.

"He was abusive and controlling," Stadler said.

She said that on the night of the murder he told her he "messed up" and he needed her to "stay by his side."

Testimony will resume Tuesday, Feb. 2.

Previous coverage: