Blagg lawyers to test juror’s credibility
New evidence surrounding a juror’s statements is expected to be the focus of a three-day motions hearing starting Monday over whether convicted killer Michael Blagg should be awarded a new trial.
Blagg, 51, is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole after being convicted of killing his wife, Jennifer, in November 2001 at the family’s Redlands home. The couple’s daughter, 6-year-old Abby, was reported missing and is presumed dead. Blagg was never charged in her disappearance.
Marilyn Charlesworth, who served as a juror in the 2004 trial, indicated on a jury questionnaire that she had never been a victim of domestic violence. Attorneys for Blagg contend he should receive a new trial because Charlesworth lied after she announced at an April 2013 Grand Junction City Council meeting that she had been a victim of domestic violence for 10 years.
Charlesworth made the statement during the public comment portion of the council meeting to protest against the election of Councilor Rick Brainard. In the days after Brainard was elected, he was cited for domestic violence for assaulting his girlfriend. Brainard later resigned from his post.
Blagg’s public defenders have filed evidence that includes testimony from Charlesworth in her 1991 Eagle County divorce proceedings from her then-husband, Kenneth Case. In the document, Charlesworth told the judge she was filing for divorce from Case because he got violent when he drank alcohol. Charlesworth testified then that her son called her at work, asking her to come home because the boy was scared of his dad, who was being belligerent and drinking alcohol. Charlesworth said she came home and tried to throw away the beer in the refrigerator and her husband smashed a beer can on her head.
Charlesworth, in a recent recorded interview with Mesa County Assistant District Attorney Rich Tuttle, said she lied about being a domestic violence victim for 10 years during the Grand Junction City Council meeting to make a point against domestic violence.
Charlesworth told Tuttle that none of her husbands abused her but that her first two husbands, Kenneth Case and David Thomas, “were both drunks.”
” ... As far as domestic violence goes, that’s a broad spectrum. I mean, did my husband and I ever have arguments? Yep. They were both drunks. Um, but did I ever consider myself a victim? I never considered myself a victim and anyone that knows me will tell you that.”
“I have never been physically abused by any man I’ve dated,” Charlesworth said. “I wouldn’t allow that.”
Charlesworth also told Tuttle about an incident in Mesa County with her former husband, David Thomas, when he called 911 stating he was suicidal. Charlesworth said Thomas was intoxicated, waving a gun around in the house with her children in it, and took off in a vehicle. Charlesworth said she called police to report that he was driving drunk with a firearm.
Blagg’s public defenders said in the court filings that Charlesworth could be prosecuted for perjury in Eagle County if she lied about events that occurred there.
Charlesworth also was the focus of Blagg’s public defenders after information came out that her vision was limited and she may not have been able to view all the evidence at Blagg’s 2004 trial.
Mesa County Chief District Judge David Bottger ruled in 2010 that Blagg would not receive a new trial during that unrelated bid. Bottger said at that time that Blagg’s attorneys must show that Blagg endured “actual bias” or “prejudice” that kept him from receiving a fair trial.
The motions hearing scheduled to begin Monday also will be in Mesa County District Court.