Evidence from polygraph leaker at issue in Stislicki murder case
By Aileen Wingblad
Is evidence obtained from leaked polygraph findings of Danielle Stislicki’s accused killer admissible in his upcoming trial — or will it be tossed?
That’s for Oakland County Circuit Judge Phyllis Mc-Millen to decide in the case against Floyd Russell Galloway, charged with firstdegree premeditated murder for the death of Stislicki, who went missing more than five and a-half years ago. Her body hasn’t been found, but prosecutors with the Attorney General’s Office — which took over the case in 2019 — contend Stislicki was killed by Galloway, the last person known to have been seen with her.
Stislicki disappeared Dec. 2, 2016, after leaving the MetLife building in Southfield where she worked. She was supposed to meet up with a friend that evening for dinner, but never showed. Galloway was a former security guard at the MetLife building and was the last known person seen with Stislicki, 28 at the time.
At issue are results of a lie detector Galloway’s attorney at the time had him take a few days after Stislicki went missing and he became a person of interest. The polygraph operator, former FBI agent James Hoppe, subsequently contacted Troy’s police chief at the time, Gary Mayer, to share details on what he said he learned from Galloway’s test and strongly urged him to keep his name out of it, according to court records.
The tip, according to court records and testimony, stated that “the security guard did it,” and that he had driven Stislicki’s vehicle back to her apartment, then walked to a nearby Tim Hortons and disposed of her keys and Fitbit along the way. The tip also stated that Stislicki’s cell phone was thrown in the trash at the Tim Hortons, that Galloway called a cab from the restaurant for a ride back to Southfield where he’d left his car, and that Stislicki’s body was wrapped in a beige and brown comforter.
Mayer then shared the information with Farmington Hills’ then-Police Chief Chuck Nebus. The investigation was in its infancy at the time, and Nebus in turn passed the information along to some of his staff as an anonymous but credible tip given to him by the Troy police chief, according to court records and testimony. Soon after Nebus got the tip, police acted on it and subsequently found Stislicki’s Fitbit and car keys, and viewed surveillance footage from the Tim Horton’s restaurant and a nearby gas station where Galloway is reportedly seen.
Weeks later, Nebus also shared the information with then-Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper and Chief Assistant Prosecutor Paul Walton, telling them it came from Mayer but that he didn’t know who tipped off Mayer, court records show.
Prosecutors say they have plenty of other evidence on Galloway, including Stislicki’s DNA and other findings from his Berkley home, additional surveillance video, witness testimony and more. Before the polygraph tip came in, 11 warrants had already been conducted in the case, investigators said.
Former prosecutor Jessica Cooper says she only got ‘hearsay’
Galloway’s defense attorney Ellen Michaels, on the case since late 2019, is challenging the evidence reportedly obtained because, she said, the tip is “a constitutional violation of due process” and attorney-client privilege, as well as denies the right to a fair trial.
Michaels also maintains that the prosecution has held back information and that Farmington Hills police investigators didn’t update their reports with pertinent details. “They kept it in the shadows,” she said, outside of court Monday.
So far, McMillen has held evidentiary hearings on May 3 and June 13, where Nebus and other law enforcement connected to the case have testified about when they learned about the tip and what information was shared with them. Police investigators have testified that they neither attempted to determine the identity of the tipster nor were forbidden to do so by Nebus.
Nebus also testified that he didn’t pursue the tipster’s identity.
And Hoppe’s name was reportedly kept out of it — until Feb. 19, 2019 when Wayne County Circuit Judge Timothy Kenny acted on an investigative subpoena by the Attorney General’s Office and compelled Mayer to reveal the tipster’s name.
Testimony heard by the court June 13 included that of law enforcement as well as former Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper, who said she couldn’t recall when she first heard the tip and didn’t know the originator’s identity until after the Wayne County circuit court hearing. She also denied discussing it with Mayer.
Cooper further claimed to have scant recollection of what went on with the
Stislicki case while she headed the prosecutor’s office, and she described Walton as a “filter” who shared highlights of cases with her. Her office, she said, handled “14,000 cases a year.”
“It’s a very large office… yes (the case) was interesting… but everything I ever got was hearsay,” Cooper said.
Michaels said she will call one witness to the stand — Walton — at what’s expected to be the last evidentiary hearing on the case. It’s scheduled for June 24.
Michaels said Walton wasn’t available June 13 due to his caseload at the Lapeer County Prosecutor’s Office, where he now works.
McMillen is expected to hear oral arguments in midto- late August. The trial has been pushed out to Nov. 28.
Galloway is serving a 16 to 35-year prison sentence for the kidnapping, criminal sexual conduct and assault of a woman in Hines Park in Wayne County that happened three months before Stislicki vanished. The conviction, however, can’t be used as evidence in Galloway’s upcoming trial, as ruled by the Michigan Court of Appeals. Appellate court judges said there aren’t strong similarities between the two cases to demonstrate motive, contrary to what the prosecution believes.
Ryan Molloy of the Farmington Hills Police Department was among those testifying at Monday’s hearing.
AILEEN WINGBLAD — THE OAKLAND PRESS
Outrageous. Will add more to comment section, below.