A major blow was dealt to the prosecution in the high-profile murder case against Floyd Galloway Jr., who stands accused of kidnapping and killing 28-year-old Danielle Stislicki in December 2016.
According to a Law and Crime report on Tuesday, September 26, 2023, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that key evidence against Galloway cannot be used in court because it was obtained unethically and violates attorney-client privilege.
Stislicki went missing after leaving her job at the MetLife building in Farmington Hills, Michigan on December 2, 2016.
Galloway was a security guard contracted at the same building where Stislicki and her mother worked.
He was considered a person of interest early on as he was one of the last people seen with Stislicki before she disappeared.
Her body has never been found.
In late 2016, on the advice of his attorney, Galloway took a polygraph test administered by former FBI agent James Hoppe.
Afterward, Hoppe called Troy Police Chief Gary Mayer and relayed incriminating details about Galloway’s involvement, including that Galloway murdered Stislicki, drove her car to her apartment, and disposed of evidence near a Tim Hortons coffee shop.
Mayer then passed this privileged information to Farmington Hills Police Chief Charles Nebus.
Based on Hoppe’s tip, police searched the area near Tim Hortons and found Stislicki’s Fitbit and keys in a grassy area, as well as surveillance footage of Galloway’s movements that night.
The appeals court ruled this evidence, which prosecutors knew came from the breach of attorney-client privilege in early 2017, cannot be used against Galloway at trial.
The court said Mayer improperly turned over the privileged information immediately, leading to the discovery of important evidence before it could potentially be lost.
Allowing this evidence at trial would undermine the exclusionary rule and due process rights.
Galloway is currently incarcerated for crimes in a separate 2017 case, which also cannot be used against him in Stislicki’s murder trial.
He faces one count of first-degree premeditated murder whenever his trial occurs, but prosecutors will now have to build their case without the key evidence obtained unethically.
The appeals court upheld the trial court’s rare order suppressing the evidence as fruit of the poisonous tree.
This ruling represents a major setback for prosecutors and the victim’s family seeking justice.
Without the Fitbit, keys, surveillance footage, and other evidence stemming from the breach of attorney-client privilege, the trial against Galloway will be much more difficult.
However, the appeals court said the potential recovery of Stislicki’s phone, which Galloway allegedly discarded, could still be used against him if found.