MUSKEGON COUNTY, MICH. - Jeffrey Willis was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Rebekah Bletsch on Monday, Dec. 18.
The sentencing hearing was the first opportunity that Bletsch's family would have been able to address Willis directly, however the defense asked that Willis could leave the courtroom before family member's spoke. The judge allowed Willis to go back to the Muskegon County Jail and skip the hearing.
According to some family, Willis blew a kiss in their direction. Spectators in the court yelled "coward" as he was escorted out.
The court hearing continued with tearful victim impact statements from Bletsch's sisters and mother.
"She was amazing inside and out," said Rebekah's sister Jessica Josephson. "Becky is so much more than the jogger on the side of the road."
"This coward should have been here to listen to us," added Rebekah's mother Debra Reamer. "This coward should have been here to listen to us, we deserve a right to tell him exactly how we feel."
Willis' attorney Fred Johnson asked if Willis could remain in the Muskegon County jail until the next trial begins in March. The judge denied the request.
By the end of the month Willis will be moved from the Muskegon County jail to the Michigan prisoner intake center in Jackson, and eventually placed in one of the state's high-security facilities.
Watch the complete sentencing below:
Willis was convicted of Bletsch's murder on Nov. 2 after a ten-day trial.
Bletsch was murdered in 2014 while jogging, and Willis was charged with her murder in May 2016. He is also charged with the kidnapping and murder of Jessica Heeringa.
Here is a timeline of the Willis case:
Willis has been lodged at the Muskegon County Jail since the conviction. A motion was recently filed that asked for Willis to remain in the county jail until he stands trial for the kidnapping and murder of Jessica Heeringa. The judge ruled on Monday that he will be transported to the prison intake center in Jackson, Mich. and begin serving his life sentence.
When the Heeringa trial starts March 2018, Willis will be transported back to Muskegon.
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