GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — Michael Blagg, who was sent to prison in 2004 for murdering his wife, will get a new trial because one member of the jury who convicted him lied on a questionnaire, a judge has ruled.
Blagg, 51, has been in prison on a life sentence for the November 2001 murder of his wife Jennifer. During his trial, prosecutors presented evidence that he shot Jennifer in the face while she was sleeping. He then placed her body in a dumpster, prosecutors said.
Investigators later found Jennifer’s body in the Mesa County landfill.
The couple’s daughter, Abby, 6, disappeared at the same time as her mother. Abby’s body has never been found and Blagg was not charged in her disappearance.
Blagg’s trial lasted 23 days and gained national attention. Much of the trail focused on the issue of domestic violence between Blagg and his wife.
Blagg did not confess to the crime. There were no eyewitnesses and no physical evidence linking him to his wife’s death.
One of the questions asked of the jurors before the trail was if any of them had been the victim of domestic violence.
Juror Marilyn Charlesworth replied no to the question. However, several years later, when Charlesworth appeared before the Grand Junction City Council on behalf of domestic violence victims, she admitted she had been victimized for 10 years.
Mesa County district Judge David Bottger took the rare step of ordering a new trial for Blagg, citing the juror’s dishonest answer, reported KREX-TV.
Bottger said he did not know if the outcome of the trail would have been different if Charlesworth had not been on the jury. However, Blagg deserves a fair trial by a jury of 12, he said.
Mesa County Assistant District Attorney Rich Tuttle said his office has not decided if they will appeal the retrial ruling.
Tuttle also said they have not yet decided to prosecute Charlesworth for her misrepresentation under oath.
A retrial will likely be expensive and time consuming, Tuttle said.