Defendant's brother testifies in trial for April Millsap's murder

James VanCallis' brother admits he lied to police about cellphone

The prosecution sparred with the brother of defendant James VanCallis about details of the night April Millsap was killed. 

However, Donnie VanCallis often testified Tuesday that he couldn't remember those details. He said he couldn't even remember if he talked to his brother on the phone. 

Donnie VanCallis also admitted he lied to police days later about losing his phone so he wouldn't have to turn it over to police when they questioned him at his job. 

Prosecutor: You weren't happy to see them.

Donnie VanCallis: I wasn't not happy to see them. I said I wanted to help them.

Prosecutor: But you didn't want to give them your phone.

Donnie VanCallis: Would you? Would you?

Prosecutor: Would I? We're talking about a 14-year-old ...

The judge stopped them. 

"Stop! Stop! You don't get to ask him questions. He answers yours," said the judge. 

On cross examination, Donnie VanCallis said his lie wasn't to hide a potential crime his brother may have committed, but rather to protect himself and his contacts who provided him with marijuana. 

He testified James VanCallis arrived at his house the night of the murder with a gag gift for him and with no signs of blood or torn clothing. That was sometime between 7:10 p.m. and 7:15 p.m.

Previous testimony showed April Millsap likely was killed between 6:33 p.m. and 6:48 p.m. on the Macomb Orchard Trail. 

A Michigan State Police trace evidence investigator also testified Tuesday about the shoe imprints left on the body. He said it would take a good amount of force to leave such bruise patterns, again giving the jury an indication of the attack's level of brutality. 


April 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.

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

Testimony has been underway in the trial for more than a week. Court resumes Wednesday at 11 a.m. 

About the Author:

Jason Colthorp

Jason anchors Local 4's 5:30 p.m. newscast. He joined WDIV in January 2015 as a general assignment reporter and has a Journalism degree from Michigan State University.