Defendants in Michigan would be compelled to listen to victim impact statements under legislation that has moved through the House.
The House passed the bill 105-2 Thursday in honor of the late Rebekah Bletsch, a 36-year-old who was murdered in 2014 while jogging on a western Michigan road. In December Bletsch's convicted murderer, Jeffrey Willis, spurred further outrage for walking out of her family's victim impact statements while blowing a kiss.
The proposed law would amend the state's William Van Regenmorter Crime Victim's Rights Act with an amendatory law in Bletsch's name requiring the defendant's presence during the sentencing hearing. The bill is now proceeding to the Senate.
State Rep. Holly Hughes said in a press release," We’re one step closer to not allowing one more Michigan family have their voice taken away by a criminal in the way Rebekah’s loved ones were. A family was prevented from speaking about how a convicted murderer turned their lives upside down. Victims and their loved ones should have more rights than murderers”
Following today’s 105-2 vote, House Bill 5407 advances to the Senate for its consideration. If enacted, the legislation will be named the Rebekah Bletsch law, in the victim’s honor, the release said.
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