[Watch live coverage of the Jeffrey Willis sentencing hearing with in-studio analysis on the Law&Crime Network in the player above.]
Jeffrey Willis, who was found guilty of the April 2013 kidnapping and murder of Jessica Heeringa, will face a sentencing hearing beginning Monday morning.Willis will have to remain in the courtroom during victim impact statements, after new legislation was passed following his sentencing in a previous murder case.
Willis faces life in prison for murdering Heeringa, but he was already sentenced to life for the 2014 murder of Rebekah Bletsch. During his sentencing in the Bletsch case, Willis got up and left the courtroom, blowing a kiss to the victim’s family. After that happened, lawmakers passed the Bletsch Law, which requires defendants like Willis to remain in court during sentencing. He will now be forced to sit in the courtroom while people provide victim impact statements.
Investigators tied Willis to both murders in 2016, after a teenage girl claimed that Willis abducted her while she was walking home from a party one night. She told police that he offered to let her use his phone if she got into his van, only to drive off with her, without letting her use the phone. The teen then jumped out of the moving vehicle and ran away. During the investigation, a search of the van and Willis’ computer files produced evidence tying him to the murders of Heeringa and Bletsch.
Willis still faces another trial for the alleged kidnapping attempt.
[Image via Law&Crime Network screen grab]