ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — On Thursday, an appeals court overturned the 2019 murder conviction of Daniel Nellis. Nellis was initially sentenced to 40 years to life in prison for the murder of Michaela MacVilla in September 2018.

The Appellate Division, Third Department, ruled for a retrial. According to findings from the appeals court, there were several errors during the trial in 2019.

Before the trial, the prosecution requested to introduce evidence from prior convictions and bad acts committed by Nellis. County Court ruled the prosecution could present evidence of one bad act during the trial.

During the direct case, the prosecution used a prior bad act that they did not include in their motion. The prosecution introduced three witnesses who claimed that Nellis had allegedly told them he had shot someone off a motorcycle.

The appeals court says the prosecution did not show how this bad act had any “probative value” to the case. The appeals court says this evidence was “particularly damning” considering that Nellis was on trial for allegedly shooting MacVilla.

During the cross-examination, the prosecution brought up instances where Nellis had allegedly fired guns at individuals, which Nellis denied. The prosecutor then introduced another situation they failed to include in their pretrial notion.

The prosecutor also made multiple improper and inflammatory comments during the summation. At one point, the prosecutor called Daniel Nellis the devil.

The appeals court writes that “the prosecutor did not merely attempt to impeach the defendant’s testimony, but instead sought to create the impression that the defendant had a propensity for acting violently when angry.” There was no apparent motive. Instead, the prosecution gave the jury the impression that Nellis acted the way he did because he was “hotheaded” and “prone to violence”.

The appeals court notes the County Court did not attempt to intervene, minimize or alleviate the prejudice caused to the defendant. The court writes, “Given the magnitude and frequency of the errors, we find it appropriate to address them in the interest of justice.”