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Judge denies request to combine Heeringa, Bletsch cases

WZZM-TV • Apr 28, 2017 at 7:56 PM

MUSKEGON — A judge on Friday afternoon denied a motion from the Muskegon County Prosecutor’s Office to combine three high-profile cases against Jeffrey Willis.

Citing concerns over the ability for a jury to keep evidence in all three cases separate during one trial, Muskegon County Circuit Judge William C. Marietti ordered all three be presented individually in three separate trials.

Willis has been charged in the attempted of abduction of a 16-year-old girl, and the deaths of Rebekah Bletsch and Jessica Heeringa.

The first trial on the court's schedule was for June, involving the case with Bletsch. A motion by the public defender's office to delay the start of the trial was also granted on Friday.

The judge, Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson and the public defenders office will meet next week to decide when a trial in the Bletsch case will be scheduled. It will be no sooner than the end of June, but will likely be delayed into August, September or October. Hilson said evidence in that case is still being processed by the crime lab.

The court is also waiting to hear if an appeal related to Willis' rights being possibly violated will be heard by the Michigan Court of Appeals. That court has not entered a decision.

Rebekah Bletsch's father, Nick Winberg, said he agreed with the judge's decision, pledging to remain patient in seeking justice.

"We are going to have a good, clean, crisp trial that has to do with my daughter and the facts in her case," he said.

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