Defense seeks closed hearing in gas station clerk case

Associated Press

Muskegon — Lawyers for a man charged with murder in the 2013 disappearance of a gas station clerk in western Michigan want a key hearing in the case to take place behind closed doors.

WOOD-TV reports Jeffrey Willis’ defense team this week filed a motion seeking a closed preliminary hearing. Such hearings, where a judge reviews evidence and hears testimony before deciding whether a case goes to trial, typically are open to the press and public.

Jessica Heeringa disappeared from the gas station where she worked in Norton Shores, near Muskegon, as she was about to close up for the night. The body of the 25-year-old woman hasn’t been found. Investigators weren’t able to break the mystery until Willis was arrested in May in a different case.

Willis’ attorneys say the case has received too much media attention. The motion is scheduled to be discussed Oct. 19 ahead of the Oct. 25 hearing.

Willis also is facing charges in two other cases: the fatal shooting of a 36-year-old female jogger in 2014 and the April attempted abduction of a teenage girl.