Bill signed requiring defendants to hear impact statements

LANSING (AP) —Gov. Rick Snyder has signed a bill requiring defendants to listen to victim impact statements in most cases.

Snyder said this week he hoped the law would “help victims and their families through the healing process.” 

The exception would be if a judge determines a defendant is disruptive or presents a safety threat in the courtroom.

The legislation was created to honor Rebekah Bletsch, 36,bwho was killed in 2014 while jogging in western Michigan. In December her convicted murderer, Jeffrey Willis, left the courtroom during victim statements — while blowing a kiss and flashing an obscene hand gesture.

Willis this month was convicted of kidnapping 25-year-old Jessica Heeringa in 2013 from a gas station where she worked and killing her.