MUSKEGON COUNTY, MICH. - Jeffrey Willis has been found guilty in the murder of Rebekah Bletsch Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017. The verdict came on the tenth day of court.
The jury reached the verdict after just over an hour of deliberations just after 5:00 p.m.
The judge ordered no cameras be permitted into the court room, however, we were still able to provide audio. You can listen to it on our Facebook.
Judge wraps up jury instructions, sends them to deliberate.
Judge begins giving jury instructions.
Prosecutor says not only does Willis have a willingness to lie but he has no problem killing people. Prosecutor rests.
Prosecutor says law enforcement did make attempt to ping Bluhm's phone but his records did not go back that far. The Prosecutor says details of MJN and Heeringa was just there to upset the jury if that were the case is not correct, the judge would not have allowed it.
Prosecutor has rebuttal statement. Prosecutor says defense argument is attacking his character. "For him to suggest that I'm invested in this case so much, bothers me," Hilson said.
Defense asks jury to pause. Tells jury they're the boss now. Asks jury to pause, let the pressure go, let the emotion go, take a breath and come back and ask what do we actually have here about Mrs. Bletsch.
There are some other items in this case the porn, Heeringa, MJN, Defense says some of the stuff the jury has looked at doesn't help making a decision. Defense brings up photo Prosecutor showed of Bletsch in ambulance, and the gasps and sobs that were heard in the courtroom, "How does that photo provide you any information to help you make a decision? It got you feeling something, feeling mad, it moved you emotionally and you felt it. That's what the porn is, that's what the Heeringa stuff is, that's what the MJN is, none of that stuff tells you who shot Mrs. Bletsch, it's a way to make you feel, get you charged up. But it doesn't tell you who shot Mrs. Bletsch and it made my client look pretty bad," defense attorney said.
Defense says,"Lets be fair the Prosecutor have some solid evidence as well. Willis and Bletsch's DNA are on the vibrator, my thinking is the vibrator didn't touch her but the gloves did and Bluhm was wearing the gloves that day."
Defense walks though the timeline, Rhonda Bluhm, Kevin's wife walked through in regards to the day of Bletsch's murder. Defense believes her timeline is off and the game likely ended earlier putting Bluhm back near the murder scene earlier.Defense believes no one knows the accurate time of events because no one ran a phone check on Bluhm's phone.
Defense questions why investigators didn't ping Bluhm's phone the way they pinged Willis' phone at the time of Bletsch's murder. Also says as for Bluhm's DNA not found on his glove, defense argues they never tested the inside of the gloves.
Defense brings up Bluhm's interview about a lasso Willis used when trying to apprehend Bletsch. Defense believes had Willis had not been arrested, some of those statements would have been further investigated.
When they found Bletsch on the side of the road, her shirt was moved down slightly and her pants were moved down slightly. Defense believes Bluhm took a photograph of Bletsch on his cell phone and he touched her.
It's not just the porn or the pictures of Rebekah, "We're losing everything on that phone. Directions, addresses, 100's of telephone numbers. Why would anyone do that? After the day of an arrest? Why delete everything on your cell phone?" Defense attorney says.
Defense brings back, Bluhm's reasoning for deleting data on his phone, porn and Bletsch's pictures.
Someone murdered Mrs. Bletsch. “We believe Kevin Bluhm is your murderer,” Defense attorney said. "Bluhm stalked her on Facebook, had her photos on Facebook, Bluhm knew where Willis’ gun was. Bluhm obsessed about Mrs. Bletsch."
6:02 -last call
6:11 – 911 call
6:23 – that’s the time, the video shows that van going by McCormick
6:26 pm – that’s the time Willis is making a call to his friend at his home.
“As the video shows it took 14 minutes to drive to the location of the murder to Willis’ home.” That leaves 11 minutes of travel. Willis was home by 6:26 three minutes after the van was seen pass McCormick, in order for Willis to get to the gas station and his home within three minutes, he’d have to drive over 200 mph.
We’re thinking the murder occurred 6:-7 or 6:08 and the 911 call came in around 6:11 so probably 3 or 4 minutes. Defense now pulls out an easel to write a few numbers down.
I agree with the Prosecutor when I say whoever shot Bletsch got her to stop. Then he shot her and then got in their vehicle.
Defense says convicting the wrong person is not justice for the Bletsch family. Asks the jury to double clutch asking for that extra moment before you make your decision.
Defense attorney speaks to jury, “This is your patriotic duty, your moment to make real, all those high values that we talked about, that pledge we say, that pledge we say, and justice for all.”
Defense begins closing arguments.
Judge calls to take a break. Court will resume at 2:15 p.m.
Prosecutor shares last closing thoughts, "I think you for your service. I know its been a long few days but at the end of the day I'm asking you find the defendant guilty," Hilson said.
"Prosecutor says there's absolutely no doubt he had time to walk over to her body, to think about it and shoot her two more times," Hilson said to the jury. "That's pre-meditated murder."
Prosecutor shows photos of the proximity of shell casings to where her head landed after being shot. Prosecutor suggests shes shot two more times after she's shot in the head and knocked to the ground.
Prosecutor shows photo of Bletsch on the ground getting CPR from first responders. Some heads drop down and there are tears from her families side of the courtroom.
"This wasn't a random act against Miss. Bletsch. This was well thought out."
Prosecutor says the evidence proves beyond reasonable doubt that Willis killed Bletsch with the .22 caliber gun and the he intended to kill her.
Brings up Kevin Bluhm's alibi being in Grand Haven. Brings up Kevin Bluhm's police interview in which he admits to finding Bletsch attractive and finding her on Facebook, "That does not point to murder," Hilson said.
Prosecutor brings up defense opening statement bringing up this collusion that Kevin Bluhm and Kevin Bletsch were in cahoots to kill Bletsch, they wanted to kill her for the insurance money. Prosecutor says there was no evidence that showed that because it never happened.
Prosecutor says 'Kevin Bluhm defense' defies logic and common sense.
Prosecutor moves to tool box, all items, ball gag, sex toys, all had Willis' DNA on it. The purple dildo had a mixture of two DNA profile, Willis was a contributor to the mixture found to the end of the mixture. Also finds part of Bletsch's DNA profile in mixture. They didn't find any other profile on that item. Bletsch's DNA also found on gloves in tool box along with Willis' DNA. In the same tool box, murder weapon was in. Prosecutor brings up how Kevin Bluhm's DNA was not found on the gloves.
Prosecutor brings up tool box and the note crumpled up that was found of things to remember like cameras, ball gags, zip-ties. "In some respects it almost appears to be perhaps a check list for the defendant's own movie. But some of the things on the list are in the defendant's tool box," Hilson said.
Prosecutor goes back to route Sgt. was asked to take yesterday/today and the time it takes to get from Bletsch murder scene to Willis' home. Prosecutor says Willis had plenty of time to get home and make that phone call to friend.
Prosecutor claims the timeframe in which Bletsch was killed was very short. Shares how Bletsch's stuff was piled neatly across the street from where she was and the shell casings found on scene.
Prosecutor claims experts did not find Kevin Bluhm's DNA profile on the gun. Moves to the Bletsch crime scene. The witness who saw found Bletsch on the side of the road.
Prosecutor goes back to convenience defense, shares how Willis claimed Schnotala sold her the gun and gave him her underwear as well as Bluhm asking to borrowing the gun before Bletsch's murder. Prosecutor claims that story is not supported by any piece of evidence in the case.
Prosecutor moves to .22 handgun. When its recovered the serial number is obliterated. Prosecutor brings up the DNA on gun. Willis' dna found all over the gun.
Brings up Michelle Schnotala testimony and the snowmobile tracks Willis used to leave by her house. The underwear stored in the same closet where Schnotala's gun was at, both she claimed were stolen.
Moves to the interview of the defendant, claiming he lied where he was that day. "This wasn't an innocent encounter, no way, not a chance," Hilson said.
Prosecutor brings up 911 call made by MJN once she got away, calls that call the most compelling piece of evidence. "That was real fear."
Teen jumped out of moving vehicle and ran down the street. Defendants version doesn't fit story at all. The fact that he stores syringe in locked safe with a gun. "MJN was going to be victim number three," Hilson said. Probably the most compelling part of the testimony was that she saw Willis at the back of the van with the gun pointed at her and all she could think was don't let me die.
Prosecutor brings up MJN, the kidnapping victim. Prosecutor claims he was stalking the young girl, getting gun ready and syringe ready, waiting for the right time. Brings up MJN just wanting to use the phone, but defendant tells her no problem you can use my phone but you got to get into my car. She gets into car, car takes off. Victim testified that Willis showed a gun, with an orange tip, an orange cap. Prosecutor showed her the syringes and she said yes that's what she looked like.
Prosecutor brings up the 'tool box killers' marked. "Put that in context with these killings," Hilson said.
Willis claimed he was home the night of April 27th, but Prosecutor argues that was a lie. Phone calls being placed from Willis home to Willis cell show he was near the Bailey street address (Willis' grandfather's house). Prosecutor shares Willis' argument that he went to his grandfather's house to pick up boards for a dog crate. Prosecutor questions, "It took the defendant an hour to pick up five boards?"
Prosecutor moves to the injection map found in tool box. that shows the reaction speed from different parts of the body.
Prosecutor believes Heeringa was knocked out, argues Willis had the capability of doing so with his wife's insulin.
Prosecutor moves to the Carl Walther laser sight battery cover found at the Exxon as well as a drop of Heeringa's blood.
Motorcycle says she saw the hatch of the van open. Motorcycle got behind the van, and said the driver was wearing a red shirt. Prosecutor shows red shirt found in Willis' home.
Move to April 26, 2013, night Jessica Heeringa went missing, claiming Willis was there that day and the motorcycle witness who saw a silver van make its way to the back of the Exxon station.
Prosecutor moves to 'VICS' folder, the JLH file and RSB file on Willis' hard drive. Prosecutor claism this was a collection of Willis' victims.
Prosecutor begins to talk about the surveillance video, Willis admitted to recording yesterday. The secret video of his co-worker and kids at a swim meet.
Brings up Computer Crimes Specialist, Gerry McCarthy and the hard drives and flash drives he investigated. The specialist found thousands of videos that depicted graphic scenes of abduction, rapes, and killed. "What I found was disgusting was that this was the defendants, outlet. This was his outlet to satisfy his needs," Prosecutor DJ Hilson said.
Asking jury to use that identity to help show Willis did or a common plan, scheme or system to perform that act.
Prosecutor starts off with what Rebekah was doing the day she was killed. "Nothing was unusual, nothing was out of the ordinary." Came home at 5:30 p.m. and did what she normally did, work out. She was alone and it is a very rural area. The defendant was working that night at around 9:45 p.m. The defendant purchases a silver Dodge caravan.
Prosecutor begins closing arguments. Starts off by thanking jury, "Its been a long process. I appreciate your service. I appreciate your patience."
Prosecutor rests their case. At this time, Judge will eliminate two jury members on the deliberation process. Judge draws a number, two jury members are eliminated, they're both men. Those jurors are not allowed to discuss case until there is a verdict.
Defense takes over questioning. Brings video back up to how long it takes to McCormick gas station, its about three minutes. Defense has no further questions, neither does Prosecutor.
Prosecutor asks, northbound do you pass McCormick gas station, Sgt. says yes. Prosecutor asks if you pass same gas station southbound, Sgt. says no. Prosecutor has no further questions.
Southbound route takes roughly 12 minutes.
Court resumes. Prosecutor says the other deputy driving southbound had a malfunction with dash cam video so Sgt. Aamodt drove southbound route this morning. Dash cam video is being played.
Taking a five minute break to retrieve evidence.
Sgt. arrives at Willis' house at roughly 51:20. It was about a 14 minute drive.
Sgt. gets on the road at about 37:58.
Prosecutor asks if he obeyed all traffic laws, Sgt. says yes. Prosecutor rolls dash cam video of drive. In the video there is also another deputy, he did the same route going southbound.
He was asked to drive from Automobile Road (Bletsch murder scene) to Sheridan (Willis' home) yesterday. Recorded drive on cruiser camera.
Prosecutor calls Sgt. Austin Aamodt. He is with Muskegon County Sheriff's Office.
Defense asks Det. if anyone with internet can get access to that document with the serial killer lists. Defense asks Det. if she looked at any of the other serial killers on the list besides the ones marked, she said no.
Prosecutor goes back to testimony in which Willis mentioned he was told by a friend that police were looking for a silver van for the Bletch investigation. Prosecutor asks if that was ever reported, Freres says no.
Defense asks Freres if the tick marks were by the Bittaker and Norris when she found it she says yes.
On the 5 page document there was a hashtag of Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris. Freres says with research they were known as a the tool box killers.
Det. says it was inside a bag along with a camcorder, knife, as well as a few other papers with vehicles, descriptions. Freres says there was also cell phone and camera battery as well.
Prosecutor calls Muskegon County Det. Lisa Freres. Prosecutor shows a 5 page document to Freres. Freres says its a list of serial killers.
Defense asks Tori how long it took for her Dad to tie up the muffler, Tori says about 5 minutes. Defense has no further questions.
Dad tells her to park at an area Walgreens. Her friend picks her up and brings her home. Tori says when she gets home her entire family is there finishing up dinner. Prosecutor asks if she recalls what time they got back to their car, she says 6:00ish.
When they finish up at the game, Tori goes on to talk about the muffler issues with her car. She says her Dad attempts to fix it for her. He ties it up. They proceed to leave in somewhat of a staggered time. Tori says she planned to drive back to her parents house. Tori says on her way home her muffler starts dragging on the ground so she has to pull over, and she called her Dad. Tori says she did answer but she doesn't know what time that phone call was.
Prosecutor goes back to the afternoon of June 29, 2014. Prosecutor asks what they were doing that day. Tori says she saw her dad when they went to an open house, they all went to a soccer game together. She didn't see most of the game because she was out hanging out with a friend.
Prosecutor calls Tori Bluhm to the stand. Kevin Bluhm's daughter.
Defense proceeding to right down estimate times of every action that took place. From game, to commute, to picking up the pizza, they are walking through the entire day, estimating minute by minute. Defense has no further questions.
Defense asks again how long the soccer game took, Rhonda guesses 50 minutes. Proceeding to walk through what happened after, again. Defense asks if Rhonda know any moms or daughters, Rhonda says yes. Defense asks if soccer match was well attended, Rhonda says yes.
Prosecutor has no further questions. Defense takes over questioning.
Rhonda says she stopped and grabbed a pizza at Little Caesars, when she got home Kevin was already there.
Prosecutor asks if Kevin ever left the area or leave her sight, she says no. Prosecutor asks what happened after, she says they all got into the car and drove to the parking lot where the other cars were parked. Rhonda says they had car issues with one of the cars but fixed it, they left all together. Rhonda says they left at roughly 6:00ish. Prosecutor asks how longi t takes to get home, from Grand Haven, she says roughly 25 minutes.
Prosecutor asks Rhonda what time the game start, she said it was roughly 3:00 p.m. Prosecutor asks if Kevin Bluhm was there, Rhonda said yes. Rhonda goes on to answer that her daughter’s team won that game went into the finals, the last game started at 5:00 p.m. There was a ceremony after, took pictures, and got a medal.
Rhonda Bluhm takes the stand. She is Kevin Bluhm’s wife. Prosecutor asks what she was doing the day Bletsch was killed, she said they had a soccer game as well as an open house. Rhonda says she met up with her husband after the open house, met followed each other to a spot, a bank across from home depot and the all got into a car and got into suburban and drove. They decided to do that because parking was horrible on weekends.
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