LANSING, Mich. – A bill requiring defendants to listen to victim impact statements at their sentencing is making its way through Lansing.
House Bill 5407, also known as the Rebekah Bletsch bill, was discussed in a house committee Tuesday.
The bill requires all defendants to remain in the courtroom during victim impact statements. Back in December, Jeffrey Willis was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Rebekah Bletsch, but before Bletsch’s family and friends could make their statements, Willis asked to leave the courtroom and the judge granted the request. Willis then blew a kiss to the family and prosecutor.
The outrage from the incident launched House Bill 5407. Holly Hughes (R-Montague) introduced the bill in January.
“We don’t think someone who’s been convicted of murder, that their rights are stronger than the victim’s family’s rights,” Hughes told FOX 17 by phone Tuesday. “They’ll never be able to see their daughter or mother again and he’ll continue to live. At least he can sit there and listen to how they’ll be impacted by this forever.”
Hughes says she hopes the bill will be waiting for a signature from Governor Rick Snyder as soon as possible.