Focus on Blagg juror grows
Thirteen years before sitting as a juror in Michael Blagg’s murder trial, Marilyn Charlesworth sought a restraining order against her then-husband, claiming he’d beaten her and threatened to kill her, according to recent filings in Blagg’s latest bid for a new trial.
Court records also show Charlesworth was a witness to at least one act of domestic violence allegedly committed by another ex-husband in the mid-1990s in Mesa County and investigated by the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office.
Blagg’s lawyers argue the new information bolsters their case for a new trial for the 50-year-old convicted killer, while further damaging Charlesworth’s credibility as an impartial juror. Charlesworth completed, under penalty of perjury, a jury questionnaire before Blagg’s trial in 2004.
She answered “no” when asked, “Have you, a family member or close friend ever been involved in domestic violence? If so, state who, when and under what circumstances ...”
She was also asked, “Have you, a family member or close friend ever been the victim of a violent crime? If so, state who, when and under what circumstances…”
Finally, she was asked before Blagg’s trial, “Have you, a family member or close friend ever been involved in a criminal case? If so, state who, when and under what circumstances ... “
She again answered “no” to the latter two questions.
Charlesworth on Wednesday declined comment on the latest filing from Blagg’s lawyers.
“It’s in my best interest to keep my mouth shut,” she said.
She called the matter “system harassment,” still angry she’s been dragged into the Blagg case for the third time in nearly a decade.
“(Blagg’s attorneys) are up in my underwear,” she said. “Nobody has any business being there.”
Charlesworth has asked Mesa County Chief Judge David Bottger to block a subpoena issued by Blagg’s attorneys, who are seeking records possibly held by Glenwood Springs attorney Walter Brown. The lawyer was one of two who worked on her 1991 divorce case with her first husband, Kenneth Case, in Eagle County.
Blagg’s attorneys are asking Bottger to review files “in camera,” or in private, to determine if there’s relevant material. Charlesworth has argued the files are protected under attorney-client privilege and shouldn’t be scrutinized.
The issue may be hashed out during a hearing scheduled to start at 3 p.m. on Friday in Bottger’s courtroom. The motion for a new trial in Blagg’s case is scheduled to be decided over three days starting on May 19, before Bottger.
Blagg is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole for his conviction in the November 2001 murder of his wife, Jennifer, at the family’s Redlands home. Their daughter, Abby, 6, was reported missing and is presumed dead. No charges were filed in connection with her disappearance.
He was convicted at trial in 2004.
Charlesworth’s jury service, which included vision problems not disclosed to the judge, came under fire in a defense motion for a new trial in 2005. Blagg’s lawyers raised passages from a notebook she kept during the trial that said, among other things, “I can’t see jack.” She also didn’t disclose during jury selection prior use of the anti-anxiety drug Xanax.
Bottger in 2010 issued a ruling denying the new trial motion, saying the non-disclosures didn’t prove a bias against Blagg that cost him a fair trial.
In April 2013, Blagg’s lawyers seized on statements Charlesworth made during a public hearing of the Grand Junction City Council, racked with controversy at the time over former city councilor Rick Brainard, who was facing domestic violence charges. She said during the April 17 hearing, “My driving force was, I was a victim of domestic violence for 10 years. I got out. I’m not a victim, but a survivor.”
Interviewed last July, Charlesworth told a Mesa County Sheriff’s investigator she lied before the city council and had never been a domestic violence victim, according to a Sheriff’s Office case report. She explained her reasons:
“Because I was the one speaking (to council) and I wanted them to realize it happens at all age levels,” Charlesworth was quoted in the report.
“There was no truth to it,” she added.
Interviewed by the Daily Sentinel in August, she told the newspaper she was emotionally abused during two relationships and didn’t consider herself a domestic violence victim when she filled out the Blagg jury questionnaire in 2004.
“I have never been hit,” she said in August.
On Jan. 22, 1991, however, an attorney representing Charlesworth filed a motion in Eagle County for a temporary restraining order, saying she’d been “physically beaten” and had her life threatened by her first husband, Kenneth Case. The motion sought temporary custody of two children.
“Without entry of an expanded temporary restraining order, wife fears irreparable injury to the physical and emotional well being of the children,” reads the motion, signed by Charlesworth, then known as Marilyn Case.
In an interview with a Mesa County Sheriff’s investigator last October, Charlesworth’s second former husband, David Thomas, told authorities that she had confided to him Kenneth Case “used to slap her around every once in a while.”
David Thomas was arrested in Mesa County in 1996 on suspicion he repeatedly hit one of Charlesworth’s sons, which happened as she physically intervened between the two of them trying to stop it, according to court records. The boy who was hit told a deputy he was “almost used to getting hit,” the records said.
Blagg’s lawyers have issued a subpoena to the Mesa County District Attorney’s Office, seeking all records from the prosecution of Thomas in 1996 concerning the same incident.