Defense for Jeffrey Willis files motion to disqualify judge

Posted at 2:53 PM, Oct 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-18 15:31:41-04

MUSKEGON, Mich. – The attorney for a man accused of killing Jessica Heeringa has made a motion in court to get the judge disqualified from the case.

Thomas Oatmen, Muskegon County Public Defender, filed the motion Tuesday.  His client, Jeffrey Willis, is accused of killing Heeringa in April of 2013.  Heeringa was last seen working her night shift at a Norton Shores gas station.  Willis is also awaiting trial for the murder of Rebekah Bletsch in 2014 and abducting a girl earlier this spring.

In the motion, Oatmen claims that Judge Raymond Kostrzewa should not preside over the case because Kostrzewa was employed in the Muskegon County Prosecutor’s Office when Heeringa disappeared in 2013. Because of this, Kostrzewa may have a bias in the case.

The defense made a similar motion during a preliminary hearing, but Judge Kostrzewa denied it.  Since Kostrzewa is also the chief judge of Muskegon County, the defense maintains that a state court administrator should make the decision on whether or not a new judge should be appointed to the case.

The motion will be heard in court Wednesday. An earlier motion filed by the defense that the media and public should not have access to information in the preliminary hearing in the case has been delayed.  FOX 17 and other news outlets have filed opposition to that motion.