GOLDEN — Amid hours of tedious testimony about fingerprints, DNA and the inner workings of landfills, a number of high-profile expert witnesses have infused sometimes lurid drama into marathon days in the murder trial of Michael Blagg.
Jurors have heard from dozens of witnesses in the five weeks since testimony began in the case of Blagg, who is accused of the 2001 murder of his wife, Jennifer, and is suspected but not charged in the suspected death of his 6-year-old daughter, Abby. The now 55-year-old former Mesa County man is back on trial after juror misconduct resulted in the reversal of his 2004 conviction.
Ron Walker — a former FBI special agent who has been in the public eye for years because of his work as a profiler in the investigation into the 1996 murder of 6-year-old Boulder beauty queen JonBenét Ramsey — took the stand in early March to opine that Jennifer's murder was a "staged domestic homicide" likely committed by someone who knew her intimately well.
Defense attorneys introduced jurors to another former FBI special agent, John Larsen, whose resume includes supervising crime scene investigation of the United Airlines Flight 93 crash in Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001, as well as investigations into "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski and several serial murder cases in Chicago. Larsen plied jurors with anecdotes of gruesome cases he worked — like those involving serial killer Andre Crawford and ax murderer Kenneth White — in support of defense attorneys' theory that a child predator killed Jennifer and kidnapped Abby.
Larsen, who theorized that the predator carried Abby and her mother's body over the family's back fence, admitted on the stand that he hadn't taken into consideration how busy the road behind the Blaggs' home was. He said he thought Greenbelt Drive was a service road, not realizing it is actually a thoroughfare that provides access to Broadway Elementary School.
University of Denver professor Phil Danielson, whose work in DNA analysis helped exonerate Clarence Moses-EL of a brutal rape and assault in Denver after nearly three decades in prison, also testified in defense of Blagg amid some controversy surrounding his methods and refusal to hand over his work to prosecutors.
Attorneys on both sides rested their cases Friday, and expect to deliver closing arguments and hand the case to jurors Monday.
If convicted, Blagg is facing a reinstatement of his original sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.