Juror criticizes Blagg’s attorney’s efforts to get new trial
The juror whose visual impairment prompted convicted murderer Michael Blagg’s attorneys to seek a new trial fired back Tuesday, claiming her privacy and civil rights have been violated by the public disclosure of some of her medical records. She also accused Blagg’s lawyers of committing “character assassination” against her.
Appearing before Mesa County Chief District Judge David Bottger on a defense subpoena, Marilyn Charlesworth asked Bottger to quash subpoenas for additional medical records and her and her husband’s 2003-04 federal income tax records.
Public defender Tina Fang is seeking those records because she claims they show Charlesworth is legally blind and has dealt with other mental and physical health issues that Fang says Charlesworth should have disclosed during jury selection in Blagg’s 2004 trial.
Blagg, 46, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison for shooting to death his wife, Jennifer, at the family’s Redlands home in 2001. The Blaggs’ 6-year-old daughter, Abby, remains missing and is presumed dead.
Fang argues that Charlesworth’s failure to let the court know that she is legally blind deprived Blagg’s trial lawyers of the chance to question her ability to serve as a juror or determine whether accommodations could be made to ensure she could see visual evidence in the case.
Fang also said Tuesday that she has uncovered a host of other medical issues that she suggested could have affected Charlesworth’s jury service.
Fang said there’s evidence Charlesworth told several people, including officials at Mesa State College, her former employer, a month before Blagg’s trial that she was having trouble multitasking and was dealing with anxiety and suffering from back pain and other physical ailments.
“The issue seems to be getting broader than we originally anticipated,” Fang said.
Charlesworth, however, noted Blagg’s trial lawyers sought a new trial based on her blindness alone and criticized Fang’s introduction of other medical issues as a “back door” tactic.
“So now I feel they’re going after character assassination,” she said.
Charlesworth said she wonders whether jurors in other cases realize information normally considered protected and private could be used to challenge their service.
A three-day hearing in which Bottger will hear testimony and arguments regarding Charlesworth’s medical history is scheduled to begin Jan. 11. The judge will then decide whether Blagg should receive a new trial.