Johanna Willis sentenced to between 5 years 5 months and 15 years in prison


    Johann Willis, of Marshall, appears in court after being charged criminally in a traffic crash that killed two people. (WWMT/File/Jason Heeres)

    Johanna Willis was sentenced Friday to spend as many as 15 years in prison, with a minimum of 5 years and 5 months.

    Just before the sentencing in a Calhoun County courtroom, Willis apologized.

    “I’m truly sorry for what happened," she said.

    Willis, 32, was charged with two counts of operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing death following a crash that killed Keith and Deborah Hendryx in September 2017.

    Keith Hendryx's mother, Shelly Hendryx, was among several family members who spoke at Friday's sentencing. Shelly Hendryx said she is glad the sentencing is over, but that no number of years would make up for the loss of her son and daughter-in-law.

    "I feel relieved," Shelly Hendryx said. "I feel like it’s over. I mean, I feel bad for both the families. I feel bad for Miss Willis. I feel bad for our family too. But, I’m just glad it’s behind us.”

    Shelly Hendryx also said that she hopes her family and the Willis family can now find peace.

    According to court documents, Willis' BAC was nearly three times the legal limit, at 0.23 percent, the day of the crash.

    During a preliminary hearing on the charges, Battle Creek Police testified that security cameras at a gas station showed Willis running a red light on Columbia Avenue at the Riverside Drive intersection and crashing into a car that had the right of way.

    "There was no pre-impact braking or markings on the roadway that would indicate any braking took place pre-impact," Battle Creek Police Detective Ryan Strunk said during that preliminary hearing. According to the video from security cameras, Strunk said, the traffic signal turned red well before Willis' black Cadillac Escalade approached the intersection, headed eastbound on Columbia Avenue.

    "You can see in the video that it finally turns green after the crash occurred," Strunk testified.

    Keith Hendryx, 41, was a former mixed martial arts fighters. He died a few days after the crash. His wife, Deborah Hendryx , 56, was a photographer. She was in the front passenger seat of the car and died at the crash scene.


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