Willis defense files motion to keep Heeringa hearing closed

Posted at 9:40 AM, Oct 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-07 09:40:31-04

MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP/WXMI) — Lawyers for Jeffrey Willis, the man charged with murder of Jessica Heeringa, are looking to keep the preliminary hearing closed to the public and media.

Heeringa disappeared in 2013 from her late night job at a gas station in Norton Shores.  She has not been found.  Willis was arrested in April for an abduction of a 16-year-old girl and investigations have led to murder charges in Heeringa case and in the 2014 murder of Rebekah Bletsch.

This week, Willis’ lawyers filed a motion seeking a closed preliminary hearing.  Preliminary hearings are set for judges to review evidence and hear testimony before deciding whether a case goes to trial.  They are typically open to the press and the public.

The Associated Press reports that the defense team says the case has received too much media attention.  The preliminary hearing is scheduled for October 25.  The court will consider the motion on October 19.

FOX 17 is filing a response to the defense motion to keep the hearing open to the media and the public.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.