MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — A Muskegon County judge has denied a public defender’s motion to suppress some evidence in the murder case of Rebekah Bletsch, clearing the way for Jeffrey Willis to stand trial next week.
Willis is accused of shooting and killing Bletsch, a 36-year-old mother, as she jogged near her Dalton Township home in June 2014.
Rebekah Bletsch (Source: Facebook)
At a Tuesday hearing, defense attorney Fred Johnson argued there wasn’t sufficient probable cause for investigators to enter and search Willis’ home after his arrest in May 2016.
“We believe the seizure of this search is invalid,” Johnson said. “They had my client, they had a van, but that’s all they had.”
He also raised questions about the magistrate who signed the search warrant, who previously worked as a prosecutor.
The main pieces of evidence in question are electronic devices seized from the home. On those devices, investigators found a file labeled “VICS” — apparently short for “victims” — and a subfolder labeled with Bletsch’s initials and the date of her death. The subfolder contained photos of Bletsch, wanted posters linked to her case and a photograph of a woman that resembled Bletsch lying on a bed. Investigators also found videos of necrophilia and thousands of “kidnap and kill” videos downloaded from the internet. Some were staged, but others were real.
Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson argued against the defense’s motion. He called a detective to the witness stand to illustrate what evidence was obtained and when.
In the end, Judge William Marietti denied the motion to suppress the evidence.
“If there was a good-faith reliance on the warrant, which I find there was, there isn’t going to be an exclusion if it was lacking in probable cause, so for that reason the motion is denied,” he said.
Had the judge ruled the other way, it would have meant yet another delay in the trial, which was previously stalled when Willis claimed his constitutional rights were violated when jail guards took some notes from his cell and when his former defense attorney was hired by the prosecutor’s office.
“Jeffrey Willis is like a rat in a trap. And I hate to say it, but he’s got what I call his rat handlers and they’re doing everything they can to get him off,” Bletsch’s father, Nick Winberg, told 24 Hour News 8.
Full Story on WOODTV8