MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — Jeffrey Willis, who is charged in a string of cases in Muskegon County, appeared in a courtroom Friday for a pretrial hearing.
The hearing was about whether or not evidence from the alleged attempted abduction of a 16-year-old girl in April could be used in the open murder case trial for Rebekah Bletsch.
Muskegon County Prosecutor DJ Hilson put the court on notice that they would like to use the evidence.
“The abduction leads to evidence that leads to investigators being able to put the Rebekah Bletsch homicide case together. On top of that I think the abduction shows motive, his intent, his common plan, scheme and system doing an act, as well as the method of operation,” Hilson said before the court.
The evidence that Hilson released in court Friday involves .22 caliber bullets that were found at the alleged attempted abduction scene after authorities say Willis pulled a gun on the 16-year-old victim before she jumped out of the van.
Hilson said the bullets found at the abduction scene match the bullets involved in the Bletsch murder case.
“As was testified to by the Michigan State Police crime lab, a .22 Ruger that was recovered from the defendant’s van matched both ballistically from the bullets taken from Rebekah’s head as well as the shell casings recovered from the scene,” said Hilson in court.
However, the defense attorney for Willis said any evidence from the alleged abduction case is “speculative” and should not be used in the open murder trial for Bletsch.
“There is no common motive or scheme at all. You have two crimes that are alleged to have been done by my client. The only commonality is the gun,” she said.
The judge asked Hilson whether or not he had any evidence showing any kind of abduction in the Bletsch case. Hilson responded saying no and that the “only witness in the case is dead,” however, Hilson believes the attempted abduction of the teenage girl shows a motive that can be connected in the Bletsch case.
“I think that you can make a pretty relevant argument that that [abduction] was exactly what was happening with Rebekah Bletsch and in the end, the court’s going to have to decide that and we will respect the court’s decision,” Hilson said.
The judge said the court is taking it under advisement and will get back with a decision in a couple of weeks.
Hilson said either way, he believes the prosecution has a strong case. He also said Willis could have multiple trials.
“Obviously he has I think four or five separate files, each file represents a separate case which means he could have four or five separate trials, and so obviously they all have different degrees of weight. The murder case [Rebekah Bletsch] obviously carries the biggest weight,” Hilson stated.
Hilson said he hopes the Bletsch trial can begin before the end of the year.