Share story

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

Snyder said in a statement after Wednesday’s signing that he hopes the law will “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, a 36-year-old who 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 western Michigan gas station where she worked and killing her.