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Protection lawyer needs to delay trial to overview lab outcomes he obtained late within the Chris Bagley homicide case

CEDAR RAPIDS – An attorney for the man charged with fatal stabbing against Chris Bagley in 2018 told a judge on Monday that the trial should be postponed for next month as he needed time to review the evidence just received and possibly independently check, and yet another missing six lab reports.

Leon Spies, Drew Blahnik’s attorney in Iowa City, who is charged with first degree murder, argued during a hearing that the experts he consulted said they could not review the materials and would come before February 16 when the trial was scheduled is to form an opinion. Start in Linn District Court.

About a week and a half ago, they just received six new lab reports on the fabric and upholstery of a vehicle from Drew Wagner, a co-defendant convicted in the case that contained male DNA and tested knives and knife sheaths in Blahnik’s apartment, Spies said.

He noted that he was not blaming the charges or saying that he thought they were hiding evidence. He understands that prosecutors relied on other state and federal agencies to complete the analysis of the evidence. Just last week, he found out that the Iowa Criminal Investigation Department wouldn’t provide laboratory results to the defense without a court order.

Linn District Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden, in his argument against the delay in the trial, said the defense had not shown a “good and compelling reason” for continuing the trial that is required.

Vander Sanden also said that the defendant’s motion “should be seen in the light of the defense raised”. Blahnik claims self-defense and defense of another, which is an affirmative defense that “essentially acknowledges” that he committed the act but claims he was justified in self-defense or defense or some other.

The scientific test results that will be offered at the hearing are summarized in the testimony protocol submitted on January 7, one month before the hearing, emphasized Vander Sanden. The reports on which this protocol is based were previously disclosed to the defendant. FBI reports dated July 31 and September 26, 2019 describing the DNA testing and fingerprinting were turned over to Spies with most of the other evidence on January 3, 2020.

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The laboratory results of the knife sheaths’ DNA testing were made available to the defense on July 9 last year, Vander Sanden said. The additional FBI reports were made available to the defense as soon as prosecutors received them. However, these reports did not contain any scientific conclusions relevant to the issues relevant to this case. Examination of the defendant’s two knives and scabbards gave “no discernible results,” he added.

Vander Sanden noted that this physical evidence “didn’t say anything we didn’t know”.

Spies said he thinks they have a different take on the evidence and that it is “critical” to have it reviewed. They don’t know the underlying data for the tests and they’re still missing the six lab reports.

Spies said, “We don’t know what we don’t know.” It would be “irresponsible” for him not to pursue all information in order to defend his client.

Sixth District Judge Christopher Bruns said he wanted to go over the written arguments and make a written decision later today or Tuesday.

Blahnik, 33, is also charged with corpse abuse and obstruction of prosecution for Bagley’s death.

Cedar Rapids’ Drew Wagner, 35, in June advocated changing the charges of voluntary manslaughter, assault while engaging in a crime, conspiracy to commit a violent crime, abuse of a corpse, and obstruction of law enforcement following Bagley’s death.

During his hearing, he admitted having started a fight with Bagley for robbing their drug dealer Andrew Shaw of Cedar Rapids, who had been convicted in federal court. Wagner said he held Bagley while Blahnik repeatedly stabbed him.

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Wagner also said he and Blahnik buried 31-year-old Bagley, who went missing on December 14, 2018, in the courtyard of a southeastern house where Wagner lived at the time.

Bagley’s body was excavated from the frozen ground next to Wagner’s house on March 1, 2019.

Wagner can expect up to 37 years in prison. He is likely to be convicted after testifying against Blahnik.

Cedar Rapids’ 41-year-old Paul Hoff, previously sentenced to 14 years in prison for firearms and drugs, is charged with corpse abuse and obstruction of prosecution in Bagley’s death. He will be tried separately.

Notes: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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