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Motion denied: Evidence from home of Jeffrey Willis can be used at trial

By Jon Mills/WZZM-TV • Oct 10, 2017 at 8:19 PM

MUSKEGON — Muskegon County Circuit Judge William Marietti has denied a motion by public defender Fred Johnson that could have kept evidence located at the home of Jeffrey Willis out of next week's trial.

The evidence located at the Willis home includes computers, video cameras, women's underwear and a list of U.S. serial killers. Tuesday’s ruling means Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson can use those items in an effort to convict Willis on a murder charge.

Willis is accused of shooting and killing 36-year old Rebekah Bletsch as she jogged down a country road in Dalton Township not far from her home in June 2014.

Johnson said detectives didn't have probable cause to enter the home and remove the items. He told the judge at that point in the investigation, detectives only had sufficient cause to search the van Willis was driving the day he was arrested.

Marietti sided with Hilson, who argued the search warrant granted by a judge was sufficient to enter the home and shed that belonged to Willis.

The items removed from the home will likely play a significant role in the prosecution's case. As will what was previously described in court as a "bondage and rape kit." Detectives also found a gun they believe was used to shoot Bletsch.

Marietti set aside a second defense motion requesting a venue change. Johnson believes publicity of the investigation into Willis may hamper the ability to find fair jurors.

Both sides were instructed to prepare for trial. The venue change motion may be made again, but only after both sides make appropriate efforts to seat a jury.

The trial is expected to begin Oct. 17 at the Muskegon County Hall of Justice.

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