April Millsap murder trial jury foreman speaks about verdict
Doug Scott says circumstantial evidence was enough to convict James VanCallis
MACOMB COUNTY, Mich. – Doug Scott served as the jury foreman in James VanCallis' trial for the murder of 14-year-old April Millsap.
The jury found VanCallis guilty on all counts including murder this past week despite it being largely circumstantial with no physical evidence.
Scott said he was surprised the defense didn't call a single witness. However, he believes the evidence was overwhelming in the end.
"It was very hard. I knew I had someone's life in my hands," he said.
Scott said he has had trouble sleeping following the trial.
"It was very hard looking at a lot of the things. The crime scene photos. The autopsy photos. It's something we had to do," he said.
Scott said certain evidence helped the jury convict VanCallis. He said every witness described the same facial feature.
"Everyone that identified Mr. VanCallis remembered him by one thing: His eyes," said Scott.
He said wounds on April's face matched the design of VanCallis' helmet and shoe imprints on the teen's body matched a pair once owned by VanCallis. He said that proof helped the jury overcome a lack of physical evidence.
"We didn't let this type of crime go unpunished years ago before there was DNA. We felt there was enough circumstantial evidence, and it was damning evidence, that he did the crime," said Scott.
The jury deliberated for more than seven hours and poured over 187 pieces of evidence.
"It was a little mind-numbing to all of us because we knew that the decision we were going to make was going to either turn someone loose that did the crime, or put someone in jail that didn't do the crime," he said.
When it came time to vote, Scott said, the jurors were on the same page.
"We got guilty's twelve times around, on the first vote, on all four counts," he said.
As foreman, Scott read the verdict in court. He said he had a reason to stare long and hard at the man they convicted.
"I wanted to look him right straight in the face, and I wanted to see his reaction, and I wanted him to see my eyes, the eyes (of the man) who was telling him he was guilty of this crime," said Scott.
When he read the verdict there was a loud celebration in the courtroom before the judge intervened. Scott said he doesn't remember the cheering and applause. His focus was entirely on the man who killed April.
The trial is over but the judge isn't done with VanCallis. He will be back in court on March 30 when he will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
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