Judge denies Jeffrey Willis’ request to dismiss Bletsch case

Muskegon County

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — A Muskegon County judge has denied a request by suspected serial killer Jeffrey Willis to dismiss one of the murder cases against him.

Willis’ defense team had moved to dismiss the Rebekah Bletsch murder case, claiming detectives and guards violated his constitutional rights when they took notes from his jail cell.

They say the notes included details about a separate kidnapping case, where Willis claimed to be the day Bletsch was killed, and explanation for evidence found in his van.

Inside woodtv.com: Complete coverage of the Jeffrey Willis investigation

Defense attorneys claim it gave the prosecution part of their playbook. But in an 8-page ruling, Circuit Judge William Marietti sided with the prosecutor, saying Willis’s rights were not violated.

The prosecutor says jail guards in August found four pages of handwritten notes — an apparent journal — in a jail jumpsuit Willis had turned in for laundry. They say the notes were potentially incriminating but that Willis never said they were for his attorney.

The jail shared them with investigators but not the prosecutor’s office, the prosecutor wrote.

Then in early September, the prosecutor agreed to search the cells of both Willis and his cousin, Kevin Bluhm, who is accused of helping Willis get rid of Jessica Heeringa’s body, which has never been found.

They say they were looking for evidence in the Heeringa case after Bluhm had stopped talking.

A corrections sergeant went through an envelope marked for Willis’s attorney, looking for contraband, but did not pass along anything to investigators and doesn’t recall what was in it, court records show.

However, guards also found a legal pad in Willis’ cell that was not marked for his attorney, the prosecutor wrote.

The prosecution says police told them “generally” about the notes on that legal pad but didn’t give them a copy.

They say there’s no evidence the prosecution learned of Willis’s defense strategy.

Guards searched his cell again in October after they had heard Willis may have been compiling personal information about deputies, court records show.

A jail sergeant went through an envelope marked for Willis’ defense team but didn’t find any personal information on deputies. The sergeant didn’t recall anything he had seen in that envelope, court records show.

The judge ruled that the jail sergeants in the searches in September and October observed “privileged communications” between Willis and his attorneys.

The judge ordered those sergeants not to talk to anybody, including the prosecutor, about what they saw. He also ruled that anything they saw was not admissible at trial.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Know something newsworthy? Report It!

News 8 Links