Judge sees clearly on Blagg request

Mesa County Chief Judge David Bottger saw through all the obfuscating rhetoric surrounding Michael Blagg’s request for a new trial and reached a sound conclusion: There is nothing to suggest that Blagg didn’t receive a fair trial —when he was convicted of first-degree murder in 2004 — just because one of the jurors had vision problems. Bottger understandably rejected Blagg’s request for a new trial.

The request by Blagg and his attorneys rests upon a demeaning premise — that people with vision problems somehow are less fit to serve on juries. In fact, there are blind judges, lawyers and jurors.

The Blagg team contended that because juror Marilyn Charlesworth didn’t disclose her vision problems before the trial, his trial was somehow unfair.

But, as Bottger noted, the defense didn’t show that Charlesworth was unable to see or understand the evidence in the trial. In fact, a journal she kept during the trial, which Blagg’s attorneys tried to use against her, proved she was able to perceive the witnesses and evidence, Bottger said.

Bottger also acknowledged that Charlesworth did not reveal either her vision problems or her use of anti-anxiety medication. But, he noted, there is nothing in Colorado law that suggests such non-disclosure is proof of a biased trial.

Blagg was convicted of the November 2001 murder of his wife, Jennifer, at the couple’s home in the Redlands. Their daughter, Abby, also disappeared that day, but no evidence of her whereabouts or death has been found.

Although the ruling will probably be appealed, Bottger made the correct decision on the request for a new trial.


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