Day 5 of Willis trial focusing on DNA evidence and ballistics

MUSKEGON, Mich. - The trial of Jeffrey Willis continued Thursday with testimony from DNA experts who worked on the Rebekah Bletsch murder.

Willis is on trial for the murder of Rebekah Bletsch in 2014.  He is also accused of killing Jessica Heeringa in 2013 and abducting a teen in 2016, but those cases have not yet been tried.

Thursday, Katherine Meredith and Sarah Rambadt, both Michigan State Police forensics scientists testified about DNA found at the scene and in the Willis home and his grandfather's home.

In the grandfather's home, they found water damage and mold throughout the home.  Meredith testified they did not find DNA of Kevin Bletsch, Rebekah's husband, on her belongings, but did find DNA of an unknown male.   She also testified that bleach and other cleaning products can break down DNA.

Rambadt testified to finding another person's DNA on Bletsch's shoulder, but not enough to identify.

In afternoon testimony, experts said the Willis' DNA was found on the gun that was found in his van and that no DNA of Kevin Bluhm was found on the gun.  Bluhm is Willis' cousin and is in custody for being an accessory after the fact in Jessica Heeringa's alleged kidnapping and murder.  The defense floated a theory in earlier testimony that Bluhm had shot and killed Bletsch, not Willis.

Testimony ended Thursday with MSP Lt. Jeff Crump, a forensics firearm expert who also testified during the preliminary exam of Willis charged with Heeringa's kidnapping and murder. Crump testified about the ballistics match connecting Willis to Bletsch's murder. Crump determined the Walther P22 handgun found in Willis' minivan, which had Willis' DNA on the muzzle and trigger, fired the shell casings found at Bletsch's murder scene and match the bullet fragments removed from Bletsch's boy.

Follow Dana Chicklas on Twitter for all the updates from the courtroom.

The prosecution has at least one more witness to call, who will be a forensics expert and likely answer many DNA questions raised Thursday. When the prosecution rests their case, the defense will start calling their witnesses if any. Testimony resumes at 9:30 a.m. Friday.

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