BREAKING: Judge denies Willis' request for 'not guilty' verdict

posted by 24 Hour News 8 -

(WOOD TV) —  The latest in the trial of Jeffrey Willis, who is charged with the kidnapping and murder of Jessica Heeringa:

Noon – The judge has denied Willis' defense's request for a directed verdict of "not guilty," allowing the trial to continue before a jury.

The judge says past court decisions allowed juries to rule in cases that only consisted of circumstantial evidence and where there was no body found. 

Judge William Marietti says the only thing missing is Heeringa’s body, but all the circumstantial evidence points to she did not leave the gas station on her own free will and she was subjected to some sort of assault, including the drop of her blood behind the gas station.Marietti says perhaps the most damning evidence is the battery cover to a laser sight for a Walther P22 handgun, which is the same model of gun Willis used to kill Rebekah Bletsch.

“That puts him in the bullseye of the circumstantial evidence that he was the one behind the gas station… stuffed Miss Heeringa in that van and took off,” Marietti says.

>>App users: Watch the judge's decision here.

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>>App users: Watch testimony streaming live here on woodtv.com.

(WOOD) —  The latest in the trial of Jeffrey Willis, who is charged with the kidnapping and murder of Jessica Heeringa:

11:30 a.m. – Johnson says Willis has submitted a line of questioning that doesn’t vibe with his strategy, and he didn’t recommend following.

However, when the judge asked Willis if he wanted to proceed with his line of questions, he says “yes.”

“I understand that, it’s my decision,” he told the judge.

Johnson says Willis drafted a letter that he will read to the jury before closing arguments.

The judge orders a bathroom break.

11 a.m. – In cross-examination Kasher testifies when Heeringa referred to “my brown extracurricular” in her journal, he interpreted she meant heroin.

Kasher agrees that a CarFax only details when a vehicle is professionally serviced, referring to the CarFax tied to Willis’ minivan.

Kasher says he was given a tip Heeringa had a cut on her forehead a couple days before her disappearance from a cappuccino machine, but co-workers and friends couldn’t verify that.

Kasher says Willis told him Schnotala gave him her panties – something she denied in earlier testimony.

Kasher says Willis said “police make mistakes, we’re all human.”

Kasher says Willis told authorities he made the “VICS” file in case authorities came back to him and needed more information about the cases.

Willis said after 2013, he thought you didn’t have to register a gun, Willis said about him not registering the Walther P22.

Kasher explains he focused his search on a Town & County because Susan Follett said the suspect’s van was just like her sister’s, which was a Town & Country.

10:30 a.m. - Kasher says he drove the route from Heeringa’s gas station to Willis’ grandfather’s house on Bailey Street around 11 p.m. going the speed limit to establish how long it would take Willis to make that trip. Kasher said it took about 12 to 13 minutes.

Since Willis may not testify during this trial , Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson is using Kasher to answer questions he would normally ask the defendant.

Kasher says Willis told him he drove the 2006 Dodge Grand Caravan authorities traced back to him.

Kasher recounts Willis’ response to authorities about when he saw MJN walking down River Road, which raised a red flag.

“She wasn’t quite where I needed and she was on the other side of the road,” Willis said, according to recorded responses read by Kasher.

Kasher says when Willis picked up MJN, he told authorities “she freaked out” and jumped out of the vehicle.

Kasher says Willis told authorities he owned the Asus computer tower and used both hard drives that contained thousands of images of pornography and murder-rape-kill videos.

Willis also told police he printed the list of serial killers around lunchtime at work for a co-worker who didn't have access to computers, Kasher says.

Willis also told authorities he put the padlocks on the Bailey Street home, and he had the key, according to Kasher.

Kasher says Willis told them he created the “VICS” files, and saved all the photos and phone records found in the subfolders titled with the intials of Jessica Heeringa and Rebekah Bletsch.

Kasher says Willis told him the pornography was “an outlet” for him, since him and his wife weren’t sexually active anymore.

Kasher says Willis admitted to secretly videotaping “the neighbor girls” and the groin areas of girls during school swim meets.

Kasher says Willis also said he wrote the unusual list found in the trash can at his grandfather's home - a house Willis said no one had lived in since 2011.

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