MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — The man who defended Jeffrey Willis in the murder trial that started three weeks ago, Fred Johnson, is a respected criminal defense attorney who helped shape the Muskegon County Office of the Public Defender. He saw the defense claim that Jeffrey Willis’ cousin actually murdered Rebekah Bletsch get no play from the jury.
Johnson attacked every aspect of the prosecution’s case, from its timelines to its most powerful physical evidence, including the gun that killed Bletsch being found in in Willis’ van and her DNA in items in his toolbox. Johnson told the jury that it all pointed to Kevin Bluhm, not his client.
Nevertheless, the verdict came quickly Thursday. Willis was found guilty of first-degree murder.
“The amount of information they (the jury) received, the number of bad acts that were discussed — no, it doesn’t surprise me, it only took them an hour and a half,” Johnson told 24 Hour News 8 a couple of hours after the verdict.
He said the fact that the prosecution was allowed to bring in massive amounts of evidence not directly related to the Bletsch homicide swayed the jury. That evidence included Willis’ taste in pornography, which showed scenes eerily similar to what the prosecution said Willis did: stalking, kidnapping, raping and murder.
“I can tell you when I thought I lost them: I lost the jury when they (the prosecution) started talking about the porn,” Johnson said. “Their expressions were visibly changed after they started hearing about the voyeurism and the other stuff.”
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