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Willis proclaims his innocence; sentenced to life in prison

By Kayla Fortney/WZZM-TV • Jun 18, 2018 at 11:54 AM

MUSKEGON — Jeffrey Willis has been sentenced to for the kidnapping and murder of Jessica Heeringa.

Judge William Marietti sentenced Willis to life without parole for murder and 18 to 40 years for kidnapping. These sentences will be served concurrent to those he's already serving.

Before the judge announced the sentence, Willis addressed the court. This was the first time he’s spoken in court since he testified in Rebekah Bletsch's murder trial.

Willis spent nearly 15 minutes bashing local law enforcement, as well as the justice system.

"I am innocent," he said.

He also commented on the kiss he blew at his last sentencing hearing. He clarified that the kiss was not for Bletsch's family, but for Muskegon County Prosecutor DJ Hilson. Willis said it was a message for Hilson, "that message being that I figured out the truth and that he could kiss his future goodbye.

"Because of my failure to properly convey this sentiment, I've allowed animosity to flourish and that needs to be remedied."

"To the Bletsch family, I am truly sorry, for this oversight," he said as he turned and faced the crowd.

In summary, Willis claimed he did not get a fair trial and was trying to prove himself innocent, instead of the other way around as the law states.

"Not only did the public defender fail in this regard, but more poignantly, the jury, press and state's prosecuting attorney DJ Hilson did as well," he said.

When Willis was done speaking, Hilson kept his reply short, thanking all those involved. He also said Willis was one of the most dangerous men he has ever met.

"He shows no remorse, no lack, no ounce of dignity or integrity and it's clear the justice system has the right place for him and that's behind bars for the rest of his natural life," he said.

Hilson also said he would sleep very well tonight knowing that Willis will "never see the light of day again." The courtroom erupted with applause.

Willis is already serving a life term for the murder of Bletsch. He is also awaiting trial for the attempted kidnapping of a 16-year-old girl.

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