Willis appeals judge’s decision in Bletsch murder case

Muskegon County

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — The defense team for suspected serial killer Jeffrey Willis is appealing a judge’s decision to not dismiss a murder case against him.

The appeal was filed Monday, the Muskegon County Public Defender Office confirmed to 24 Hour News 8.

The move came about five weeks after Muskegon County Circuit Court Judge William Marietti denied the defense team’s request to dismiss the Rebekah Bletsch murder case.

Defense attorneys claimed detectives and guards violated Willis’ constitutional rights when they took notes from a jail jumpsuit Willis had turned in for laundry.

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

The prosecutor said 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.

Corrections officers searched Willis’ cell two more times, combing through two envelopes marked for Willis’ attorney, court records show. While information from those envelopes was not passed onto prosecutors, the prosecution said police told them “generally” about Willis’ notes on a legal pad also found in his cell.

Authorities argued there’s no evidence the prosecution learned of Willis’s defense strategy.

Judge Marietti ruled that the jail sergeants involved in the searches observed “privileged communications” between Willis and his attorneys. He 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 during the trial.

The Bletsch murder trial was scheduled to start on June 13, but may be delayed because of the appeal.

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