DA seeking penalties for Blagg juror
Problems with her testimony forced Michael Blagg retrial
A Mesa County judge has issued a contempt citation against a one-time juror whose shifting stories are blamed for causing a retrial in the case of convicted killer Michael Blagg.
Marilyn Charlesworth of Orchard Mesa has been ordered to appear before Chief Judge David Bottger later this month for a “show cause” hearing, when she could face a variety of penalties. The citation signed Thursday by the judge says Charlesworth must show why she shouldn’t be “fined and/or imprisoned and/or ordered to pay restitution as a remedial sanction resulting for her failure to honor her oath to the court.”
Specific penalties sought by the Mesa County District Attorney’s Office are not detailed.
Blagg, 51, who was serving life in prison without parole for his 2004 trial conviction in the murder of his wife, Jennifer, was returned Thursday night to the Mesa County Jail. He could also be released on bond in advance of a second trial, the costs of which could potentially reach seven figures.
Blagg’s case is expected back before Bottger next week.
“Overall, Ms. Charlesworth’s deception was an affront to the peace and dignity of this court, and undermined the pursuit of justice in this matter,” reads a motion for a contempt finding by the District Attorney’s Office.
Charlesworth declined comment when reached Friday.
The DA’s motion accuses Charlesworth of lying in three answers she gave on her written questionnaire, something that was completed by all jurors before Blagg’s trial. Prosecutors allege she lied when she answered “no” when asked if she’d ever been involved in domestic violence, involved in a criminal case or been a crime victim. Bottger issued an order June 11 granting Blagg a new trial, concluding Charlesworth had an agenda to sit in judgment of Blagg.
“It is impossible to know whether the outcome of this trial would have been different if (Charlesworth) had not served on this jury,” Bottger’s order reads. “It is not defendant’s burden to show that it would have been. Rather, it is his burden to show he was deprived of a fair trial. He has met this burden.”
Among other pointed observations, Bottger wrote, “It is clear beyond question that (Charlesworth) will say whatever she thinks will advance her agenda at the time.”
Blagg’s public defenders successfully argued for a new trial based on events in the spring of 2013 and the domestic violence allegations against former City Councilor Rick Brainard. In a speech to the council on April 17, 2013, Charlesworth described herself as a “victim of domestic violence for 10 years,” despite her denial in the 2004 jury questionnaire.
Interviewed in June 2013 by a Mesa County prosecutor and sheriff’s investigator, Charlesworth claimed she’d lied when she spoke to the council in an attempt to help a movement seeking Brainard’s removal from office.
However, on May 20, Charlesworth testified in Bottger’s courtroom that she lied when she said she lied.
Who knows what’s true, the judge said in his order.
“Fortunately, it is not necessary for me to untangle the web (she) has woven,” Bottger wrote.