Nellis’ phone, MacVilla’s phone ‘pinged’ together
JOHNSTOWN — The trial against Daniel Nellis for the alleged murder of Michaela MacVilla continued in Fulton County Court on Friday where dispatch records, recordings from 911 calls and witness accounts were introduced showing that Nellis made multiple 911 calls the morning of MacVilla’s disappearance.
The 21-year-old St. Johnsville woman was reported missing by her mother Samantha Jump on Sept. 25. after she did not return home from work following her closing shift at the Stewart’s Shop on East Main Street where she was last seen early that morning just after midnight. MacVilla was found dead from an apparent gunshot wound on Oct. 2 in an area of heavy brush on Kringsbush Road in Oppenheim.
During the first day of the trial against Nellis on Wednesday, Fulton County District Attorney Chad Brown described in his opening statement how phone records connecting MacVilla and Nellis played a crucial role during the investigation into her death, showing that Nellis’ cell phone was the last number dialed on MacVilla’s phone and that Nellis made several 911 calls a few hours after she was last seen.
During the third day of the trial on Friday, Brown called 11 witnesses to the stand who provided testimony surrounding several calls Nellis made on the morning of Sept. 25, including multiple calls to 911 in which he claimed that an armed biker gang known as the Hell’s Angels had surrounded his home and smashed his car windows.
Brown played recordings of these calls for the jury while Fulton County 911 dispatcher Stephanie Goris-Gonzalez was on the stand. Goris-Gonzalez testified that Nellis reported multiple people with weapons who smashed his car window. He identified them as the Hell’s Angels, a known biker gang.
From approximately 6:36 a.m. on Sept. 25 Nellis called 911 multiple times claiming that the Hell’s Angels were “running around in my yard.”
In one of the recordings Nellis states, “I have a bunch of people outside my house with guns and dogs.”
In a second recording Nellis says, “People are pointing guns at my house.”
In a third recording Nellis states, “My neighbor heard gunshots. I don’t know if there is a problem with Hell’s Angels.”
After receiving the calls, Goris-Gonzalez testified that she dispatched Fulton County sheriff’s deputies to Nellis’ home, including Deputy Ronald Lennen.
Lennen testified on Friday that upon arrival at Nellis’ home on Sept. 25, there were three vehicles parked on the property that belonged to Nellis and “there was no one there relating to the complaint.”
Lennen additionally testified that he circled the house, but did not see any tire marks or any shattered glass, however, he did observe Nellis with a bandaged finger about which Nellis claimed he shot himself.
Also receiving a call that morning was Nellis’ neighbor, Justin Doukantes, who leased property from Nellis for hunting. Both Doukantes and another neighbor, Valedine Johnson testified they woke up to the sound of a gunshot at approximately 3:30 a.m. on Sept. 25.
Johnson testified that she thought it wasn’t anything “unusual” since Nellis regularly shot his guns and hunted on his property. She also testified that she did not hear any screaming, or any motorcycles.
Meanwhile, Doukantes testified that Nellis called him and told him that the Hell’s Angels were heading into Doukantes’ yard and to turn on his lights. He testified that when he turned on his lights, there was “nothing there.” He said he told Nellis to stop calling and Nellis replied that he was “having a bad day.”
Also testifying on Friday were state police investigators Craig Eggleston and Stanley Lizzio who interviewed Nellis on Sept. 28, the day after MacVilla’s cell phone was found on Mill Road.
Nellis confirmed his cell phone number with Eggleston and Lizzio, which a comparison with records from MacVilla’s phone showed was the last number dialed at approximately 12:15 a.m. on Sept. 25.
Additionally, court documents obtained by The Leader-Herald said phone records obtained during investigation show that MacVilla and Nellis’ phones were in the same vicinity just after midnight on Sept. 25 and continued traveling along the same route at that time until reaching the area of Mill Road where MacVilla’s phone stopped moving and was later found. Nellis’ phone continued to his residence.
Both Eggleston and Lizzio testified that they questioned Nellis asking him if he knew MacVilla. They testified that Nellis said he had seen MacVilla in Stewart’s and that he saw her crying once on the side of the road and asked her what was wrong which she then told Nellis of her sister who died in August 2018.
Eggleston also testified that he saw scratches on Nellis’ forearms during that interview on Sept. 28.
The trial against Nellis will resume today in Fulton County Court before Judge Polly Hoye.