Judge denies motion to remove Kostrzewa from Willis case

Jeffrey Willis is accused of murdering two women in Muskegon County since 2013

Ottawa County District Court Judge Bradley Knoll denying the motion to remove Judge Raymond Kostrzewa from the Jeffrey Willis case on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016.

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — An Ottawa County judge has denied a motion to disqualify a Muskegon County judge from presiding over the case of Jeffrey Willis, who is charged with murdering Jessica Herringa.

Thursday afternoon, Ottawa County District Court Judge Bradley Knoll denied Jeffrey Willis and his defense team’s motion to disqualify Judge Raymond Kostrzewa from hearing the case.

“It’s frustrating to have these little bumps in the road but we do live in a democracy,” Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson said of the motion, which delayed the case. “I just want to move the ball forward here.”

Jeffrey Willis, Jessica Heeringa
Left: Jeffrey Willis. (May 2016) Right: Jessica Heeringa (Undated courtesy photo).

Willis is charged with kidnapping Heeringa from the Norton Shores gas station where she worked and then and murdering her in April 2013.

He and his defense team wanted to disqualify Judge Raymond Kostrzewa from hearing the case because he worked in the Muskegon County Prosecutor’s Office before 2014. The judge previously declined to recuse himself, saying he never worked on the Heeringa case.

In addition to the charges in the Heeringa case, Willis, 46, of Muskegon Township, is charged with murdering 36-year-old Rebekah Bletsch in June 2014.

He’s also accused of trying to abduct a 16-year-old girl in April of this year. The teen was able to escape, and it was her report that led investigators to Willis. He was arrested in May.


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