State representative, Terry Sabo, a Democrat from Muskegon, introduced a House Bill that would require convicted persons to be present during victim impact statements for felony offenses.
This bill is in response to when Jeffrey Willis walked out of the courtroom prior to the victim impact statements being read at his sentencing on Dec. 18.
Willis was convicted for the murder of Rebekah Bletsch, and members of her family were going to address Willis directly at the sentencing.
However, just before this happened, Willis requested to leave the courtroom and was escorted out. As he walked out, he blew a kiss to Bletsch's family.
This action shocked and outraged the people in the courtroom, and spectators yelled out "coward."
Despite the fact that Willis left the courtroom that day, he was later forced to listen to a recording of the statements.
“My bill plugs a hole in current law, which does not give a judge clear guidelines concerning a convicted person's request to be excused from hearing victim impact statements," said Sabo in a statement. "My bill protects the rights of victims and their families and will help prevent convicted criminals from making a mockery of our justice system."
The bill's caveat is that a convicted person would be permitted to leave if they are disruptive to the point of raising safety concerns for the court.
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