In 2004, the body of Jennifer Blagg (34) was found in a Grand Junction landfill in Mesa, Colorado wrapped in a red and black plastic tent; it seemed clear that she had been murdered elsewhere and discarded perhaps with the hope that her remains would not surface. Jennifer and her 6-year-old daughter had been missing since 2001. The daughter still has not been found. Evidence at the crime scene linked her husband, Michael Blagg to the murder. Ultimately he was charged and convicted of murder and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. The state contended that he shot his wife as she slept. The Colorado Court of Appeals upheld the conviction. However this summer, the trial judge Ordered that Blagg be awarded a new trial based upon the fact that a juror on the case, Marilyn Charlesworth, lied on the jury questionnaire when she stated that she had not been the victim of domestic violence. The judge decided that because she probably had been a victim in the past (she said she had been at a subsequent unrelated city council meeting), Blagg was denied his right to a fair and impartial jury of 12 people. It is not clear whether the state is planning to appeal that decision. Herein is the problem for the state. In addition to the formidable task of retrying the case (there are over 20,000 pages of police reports and tons of witnesses were called by the state at the last trial), one of the state’s primary witnesses at the first trial may not be testifying at the new trial. Why? He was just charged this past July with three felonies and two misdemeanors. What makes matters worse is that Former Mesa County Sheriff investigator, Steve King (now a state senator) was fired from his part-time job as an investigator for allegedly falsifying timecards there (he faces other charges as well). King played prominently in the first trial testifying at one point that Blagg’s apparent attempted suicide (roughly three months after his wife’s disappearance) was staged and he was “attempting to get sympathy”. He also testified that once the police were through looking at his house as a possible crime scene, and turned control of it back to Blagg, he seemed afraid to look at the house. King made it known that he was suspicious over the fact that valuables had not been taken from the home and the whole thing looked staged. At any rate, it is clear that King was a valuable witness for the prosecution- he had been working the case from the beginning. Now his value is nebulous. Without doubt, defense lawyers would have a field day when they cross-examined him. The question is, does the state need him. This may be time for a plea-bargain. Anything less than life without the possibility of parole may be enticing, although Blagg is not getting any younger. Information concerning the daughter may be useful.
UPDATE: Michael Blagg’s five-week trial came to a close with his conviction on all counts, and his wife’s family said their lives will never be complete without Jennifer and her 6-year-old daughter, Abby, who disappeared at the same time her mother was killed in 2001. Blagg was sentenced to life.