- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 30, 2016

MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. (AP) - A man convicted of killing a 14-year-old girl along a popular suburban Detroit nature trail denied responsibility for her death before being sentenced Wednesday to life in prison without parole.

James VanCallis, 34, was given the mandatory sentence for the murder conviction in the July 2014 death of April Millsap. He told a Macomb County courtroom in Mount Clemens that he somehow got wrapped up in “a sad chain of events” and wants to appeal.

“There is no evidence that shows that I have done anything wrong,” he said.

April’s mother, Jennifer Millsap, spoke in court before the sentence was handed down, telling VanCallis she hopes “the four walls close in on you and choke you.”

“I hope when you close your eyes, you see only April, over and over and over again,” she said. “You will die behind those bars, alone. I hope the inmates know.”

A Macomb County jury in February convicted VanCallis of murder, kidnapping and assault with intent to rape. Authorities say the St. Clair County man hit the teen with a motorcycle helmet and stomped on her in July 2014 while she was walking her dog along Macomb Orchard Trail in Armada.

VanCallis’ lawyer has said there’s no DNA evidence linking VanCallis to the crime. VanCallis in a telephone interview broadcast this week by WJBK-TV and WWJ-AM that investigators charged the wrong person and “the real perpetrator is out there.”

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