Murder trial set for closing statements

JOHNSTOWN — The defense wrapped up its case in Fulton County Court, Tuesday, calling two more witnesses after Daniel Nellis, who is on trial for allegedly murdering Michaela MacVilla by shooting her at point blank range in the back of the head, was cross-examined by Fulton County District Attorney Chad Brown.

MacVilla was reported missing on Sept. 25 when she did not return home from her closing shift at the Stewart’s Shop in St. Johnsville. Her body was found a week later on Oct. 2, in heavy brush off of Kringsbrush Road in Oppenheim. The cause of her death was a gunshot wound to the back her head by a .38 caliber handgun.

During Nellis’ testimony, Brown pressured him, attempting to get him to admit to killing MacVilla, but Nellis stuck to his testimony that he did not kill her.

“I would protect that girl with my life,” Nellis said.

Brown’s questions continued to heat up as he asked a series of questions — “What did Michaela do to you that made you shoot her in the back of the head?” “Did you hit Michaela, did you hit her so hard you knocked her glasses off her face?” “Did you shoot her in the back of the head?” “Did you toss her body into heavy brush like a piece of trash?”

For each question Nellis said that everything Brown was accusing him of was all a “made up story.”

Following Nellis’ testimony, defense attorney Brian Toal called his last two witnesses — Kyle Lynch who testified that he lived with Nellis for six months at 758 Route 108, Oppenheim, and Fonda Mayor William Peeler who testified that he, as a private investigator, began watching the 53 Dolge Ave., Dolgeville apartment the week the trial began on June 3.

Once the defense rested their case, Brown recalled Luke Sargeant to the stand to rebutt Nellis’ testimony in which he claimed that he saw Sargeant in a blue truck on Sept. 25 on Bell Road which is where Nellis testified he pulled over to “fool around” with MacVilla. Nellis testified they were “caught” by Sargeant who is the father of MacVilla’s boyfriend.

Sargeant testified on Tuesday that he did not own a blue truck in September 2018, that he was at work during the time of that alleged incident and that he’s never been on Bell road.

Once Sargeant finished his testimony, Brown also rested his case.

Today, Brown and Toal will give their closing arguments and the jury will begin their deliberations.