Willis murder trial coming to close; prosecution rests

Posted at 9:09 AM, May 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-16 12:01:33-04

MUSKEGON, Mich. - The murder trial of Jeffrey Willis is coming to a close.

The final witness for the prosecution, Lt. Michael Kasher of the Norton Shores Police Department,  resumed testifying Wednesday morning.  The trial started a little later than usual because a juror fell ill Tuesday afternoon. Court was adjourned early Tuesday as well, at about 4:00 p.m.

Kasher continued to describe the scene of the gas station where Jessica Heeringa worked, finding nothing missing in terms of merchandise or cash. That helped investigators rule out robbery.

During cross-examination, Willis submitted questions to his attorney, Fred Johnson, to ask.  Johnson recommended not asking the questions and during a break when the jury was not in court, Judge William Marietti told Willis that if the line of questioning backfires, he does not have a claim to misrepresentation.  After the short break, Johnson asked the questions, primarily about files found on Willis' computer.

Prosecutor DJ Hilson finished the morning and rested his case. This afternoon, the defense has their turn, but has not indicated if they'll be calling witnesses.  Willis testified on his own behalf in the Rebekah Bletsch murder, but was convicted anyway.

Johnson, after lunch was announced and the jury was dismissed, asked the judge for a direct judgement of 'not guilty' since the body of Heeringa has not been found.  Judge Marietti denied the motion.

Willis is on trial for the kidnapping and murder of Jessica Heeringa in the spring of 2013.  Heeringa was last seen working at a Norton Shores gas station late at night.  Her body has not been found.  Willis has already been convicted of killing Rebekah Bletsch in 2014 and is serving a life sentence for that crime.

After witnesses are presented, both Hilson and Johnson will have a chance to make their closing arguments to the jury.  Then, the jury will receive instructions from Judge William Marietti and then will go into deliberations.

FOX 17's Doug Reardon will be at the court and will have updates throughout the day. Follow him on Twitter for the latest here.