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Convicted killer hears victim’s family on prison ride

December 21, 2017

Jeffrey Willis appears for sentencing in front of Judge William Marietti for the first degree murder in June 2014 of Rebekah Bletsch in Muskegon, Muskegon County Court House on Monday, Dec. 18, 2017. Willis decided he would leave the courtroom before he was sentenced to a mandatory life sentence without chance of parole. (Joel Bissell/Muskegon Chronicle via AP)

MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) — Sheriff’s deputies in Michigan repeatedly played the comments of a murder victim’s anguished family while they drove a convicted killer to prison.

Jeffrey Willis was granted a request to skip his sentencing Monday so he didn’t hear the statements by relatives of Rebekah Bletsch. But Muskegon County Sheriff Michael Poulin had a CD made.

Poulin says the 25-minute CD was played five times as deputies drove Willis 145 miles (230 kilometers) to prison Wednesday.

Willis is serving a life sentence for shooting Bletsch while she jogged in western Michigan. He’s also awaiting trial in the disappearance of a gas station employee.

The sheriff says it’s important that Bletsch’s family knows Willis heard what they said after he left court. Willis blew a kiss to the courtroom on his way out.

A state lawmaker is sponsoring a bill to require convicts to listen to victim-impact statements in court.

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