Jeffrey Willis defense seeks to bar media, public from Jessica Heeringa case

Accused murderer Jeffrey Willis and his lawyer don't want the media - or anyone else - at his preliminary hearing.

MUSKEGON, MICH. - The attorney for accused murderer Jeffrey Willis was in front of a Muskegon County judge this morning, arguing the press and public should not be allowed access to a preliminary hearing involving Willis and the Jessica Heeringa case.

Lawyers representing numerous different media outlets, including WZZM 13, were also at the hearing. They contend this is a process that normally is open to the public and should remain as such.

More than a month ago, Willis' attorney asked that the media not be allowed to cover a pre-trial related to the charges Willis faces relating to Heeringa.

Willis is charged with murder in that case.

His attorney believed media publicity of pretrial hearings could taint the jury pool in Muskegon County. At a preliminary hearing, the prosecutor give the judge a portion of the evidence that could be used at a future trial if the judge is persuaded the evidence is substantial.

After hearing arguments from both sides, Judge Raymond Kostrzewa said his decision would be coming "quickly."

The preliminary hearing is scheduled for Dec. 6.

Heeringa disappeared in April 2013 from a Norton Shores gas station where she was working.

Willis has been charged with several high-profile crimes in the Muskegon area, including the murder of jogger Rebekah Bletsch and the attempted kidnapping of a teen girl this spring. He, too, faces child pornography charges.

The preliminary hearing was to have happened in October, but another motion filed by Willis's attorney delayed the case. That motion was in an effort to get the judge on the case removed, but that motion was not granted. 

(© 2016 WZZM)


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