Murder trial in 3rd week
JOHNSTOWN — Evidence and photographs collected throughout the investigation into the disappearance of Michaela MacVilla continued to be presented to the jury on Friday during the Fulton County Court trial of Daniel Nellis who has been accused of shooting her to death.
What began as a missing person’s case on Sept. 28 quickly turned into a homicide investigation for several investigators involved in the case, including state police Investigator Kevin Noto who worked the lead desk, along with Investigator Donald Klingbeil. Both followed leads, conducted interviews and assigned leads to investigation teams.
Noto testified on Friday that on Sept. 28 he walked from the St. Johnsville Stewart’s Shop where MacVilla was last seen to her residence at 31 W. Main St., to determine how long it would have taken her to walk home from work. MacVilla was regularly known to walk home from work. Noto testified that it took approximately five minutes to walk the short distance.
During Noto’s testimony, he said he issued a search warrant for a Fitbit that MacVilla had been wearing with other items of jewelry when she was reported missing, which was found on her wrist when her body was discovered on Oct. 2.
Noto testified that he was able to use the records from the Fitbit that monitored her heart rate to determine her approximate time of death. A chart of her heart rate was shown to the jury during his testimony. The chart showed the heart rate from 11:56 a.m. to 12:49 p.m. Her heart rate peaked at 12:24 p.m. and decreased at 12:32 p.m. where it stayed at a steady rate, indicating MacVilla’s likely time of death.
Klingbeil testified on Friday that he interviewed several people including Samantha Jump, MacVilla’s mom, who gave a description of MacVilla when she first went missing. MacVilla was seen wearing a maroon Stewart’s shirt, and white sneakers. She had dark hair, wore glasses, had on a Oppenheim-Ephratah- St. Johnsville class ring, a silver bracelet that had “Kimberly LaLa” inscribed on it, a Fitbit, a gold cross necklace and was carrying a multi-colored neon bag. However during the testimony of Erinn Manns, who was at the scene of Kringsbush Road where MacVilla was found, the gold cross necklace and multi-colored bag were not found with MacVilla.
Manns testified that she photographed the area of the powerline road and photographed MacVilla’s body as it was found. Those photographs were presented to the jury. The pictures showed MacVilla on her left side, face down with her legs bent at her knees and pants pulled down to her ankles.