Nellis gets 40 to life for MacVilla murder

August 22, 2019 05:05 PM

JOHNSTOWN - The man convicted of killing 21-year-old Michaela MacVilla last fall will spend decades behind bars.

Daniel Nellis was sentenced to a minimum of 40 years on murder and weapons charges in MacVilla's death.


Nellis will serve at least 25 years for the murder charge followed by at least another 15 years for a weapons charge. Nellis was convicted on two other weapons charges, but those sentences will be served concurrently.

MacVilla's immediate family was not in court for sentencing Thursday, but they did write impact statements to be read.

Fulton County District Attorney Chad Brown read the statements from MacVilla’s parents, Samantha and Kevin Jump. Jannie Carey, MacVilla’s grandmother, read an impact statement from MacVilla's younger sister as well as one she wrote herself. All those who spoke said they found comfort in knowing Nellis would be behind bars for decades.

After Judge Polly Hoye sentenced Nellis to the maximum number of years on each count, MacVilla’s Aunt Cora Murray said she felt bittersweet; though Nellis will go away for a long time, MacVilla can't be brought back.

"Mr. Nellis you cannot believe how happy it makes me to know that you will see the same four walls every day for the rest of your God-given life,” Murray said.

Though it's not in her nature, Carey said she's unsure if she can ever forgive Nellis.

“I am an ordained minister and we preach forgiveness but it's so hard to be in these shoes because my granddaughter is never coming home,” Carey said. “It's going to be a hard one to do, I don't know that I can, but I do know I have to walk my talk. I just pray for some guidance."

Nellis also gave an emotional statement before being sentenced. He claims police searched his home without a warrant and they neglected to follow up on other potential suspects. Nellis said he plans to appeal.

NewsChannel 13 attempted to talk to Nellis' family after sentencing, they declined to comment.

Brown said he doesn't believe Nellis' case is solid enough to be granted an appeal. Brown said even if he does that process could take years.

MacVilla’s parents and younger sister have since moved away from the area. Carey said it was too painful for them to stay in St. Johnsville after losing two daughters in two months last year. Michaela's older sister Kimberlee passed away in August. The family h doing their best to cope, but Carey said even with Nellis' conviction, it’s been very difficult.

"My daughter and my other granddaughter and her husband have been through absolute hell the past year,” Carey said. “I'm surprised they have kept their lives together as much as they have but I'm proud of them. You know this is for Michaela not for any other reason…I believe in the justice system, they did a wonderful job with this and it gives me faith back in the justice system here in New York again. It truly does."


Emily Burkhard

Copyright 2019 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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