116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Drew Wagner, the Cedar Rapids man who started a fight with Chris Bagley for robbing their drug dealer and then held Bagley down while another man repeatedly stabbed him to death, pleaded to lesser charges Monday.
Wagner, 34, pleaded to amended charges of voluntary manslaughter, assault while participating in a felony, conspiracy to commit a forcible felony, abuse of a corpse and obstruction of prosecution.
Wagner initially was charged with first-degree murder, which is a life sentence without possibility of parole. He now faces up to 37 years in prison.
During the plea, Wagner admitted that he went with Drew Blahnik, also charged in the case, to a mobile home Dec. 14, 2018, with the intent to assault Bagley, 31, of Walker. Wagner also said he Bagley down while Blahnik stabbed him multiple times.
Wagner then moved the victim's body to his residence and buried the body on the property. He admitted to doing this to conceal the crime.
Bagley's mother, who was in the courtroom for the plea, started crying hearing details of the crime. Several other members of the family also were visibly upset and teared up.
The courtroom was limited to close family members of both victim and defendant to allow social distancing. Sixth Judicial District Judge Christopher Bruns allowed the hearing to be livestreamed for the public because the Linn County Courthouse has limited access during the pandemic.
Wagner also pleaded guilty in a separate case to possession with intent to deliver marijuana and failure to affix drug tax stamp. Those two five-year sentences will run concurrently for a total of five years, according to the plea agreement.
Bruns said it will be left up to his discretion at sentencing whether to run those five-year terms concurrently to the 37 years or consecutively, which would be 42 years in prison.
Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden during the hearing said Wagner, as part of the plea, will waive his right to appeal, and he must testify against Blahnik, 33, of Cedar Rapids, who is charged with first-degree murder, abuse of a corpse and obstruction of prosecution.
Blahnik's trial is set for Feb. 15.
Wagner also will have to testify against any other person who might be charged in this case, Vander Sanden said.
Vander Sanden wouldn't say who else might be charged, but drug robberies against Andrew Shaw, who authorities said was the dealer for Bagley, Blahnik and Wagner, was the reason Wagner started the fatal fight with Bagley.
Shaw, 31, of Cedar Rapids, hasn't been charged in this case.
Shaw was convicted of large-scale marijuana trafficking in federal court and was sentenced to eight years in federal prison.
Wagner, at sentencing, also will be ordered to pay $150,000 to Bagley's estate and court fines.
After the hearing, as Wagner was handcuffed and led out of the courtroom by a sheriff's deputy, one of Bagley's brothers told Wagner, 'Have fun in jail. You're a coward.'
Stewart Bagley, Chris' father, after the hearing said, 'It's a step forward in the right direction.
'I'm good with the plea. My wife, Christina, took it hard. I will be glad when it's over. It's been a long 18 …
He said Chris's wife, Courtney, along with their children — a nine-year-old son and a five-year-old daughter — were doing OK.
Stewart Bagley said the family is taking care of the children while their mother is going to school.
An unsealed search warrant obtained by The Gazette in May revealed more details of the deadly assault and how Wagner, Blahnik and Paul Hoff, 42, also charged, told different versions of what happened.
Bagley, a husband and father of two, left home Dec. 13, 2018, with a woman his wife didn't know and did not return. Authorities found his body buried in the yard at 4069 Soutter Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids, where Wagner had been living, on March 1, 2019.
At a federal court hearing in April 2019, authorities said Bagley was killed during a fight over drug robberies from Shaw, according to testimony.
A search warrant affidavit stated that Hoff told investigators Bagley came to his trailer, 7100 Mount Vernon Rd., Lot 26, on Dec. 14, 2018, and then Wagner and Blahnik came over when they learned Bagley was there.
Wagner and Bagley got into a 'heated discussion' about Bagley causing issues with a marijuana business involving Wagner and Shaw, according to the affidavit.
Wagner thought Bagley had been stealing drugs and money from different locations belonging to him or Shaw.
Blahnik was sitting on a stool watching until the two began fighting, and he pulled a knife from his waistband and stabbed Bagley once in his side, Hoff said. Wagner was behind Bagley with his arms around him and took him down on the floor of the trailer.
Blahnik then grabbed Bagley by his hair and stabbed him at least two more times in the neck, causing his death, Hoff said.
They wrapped Bagley's body in a tarp and removed it from the trailer through a back window into the bed of Wagner's truck, Hoff told investigators.
Hoff said Blahnik and Wagner took the body to bury in Wagner's yard, according to the affidavit.
Wagner, in his interview with authorities, claimed Bagley had a firearm in his waistband and then 'out of nowhere,' Blahnik began to stab Bagley.
Blahnik, in his interview, said the fight was over the sale of a gun and money owed. Wagner tried to give Bagley a 'chance out' of the dispute, but Bagley pushed him and the fight started.
Wagner then yelled 'gun, gun,' as Bagley was reaching toward his back pocket. Blahnik told investigators he 'protected' Wagner by stabbing Bagley, who had reached for a gun.
Federal investigators last year said Hoff told them there was no gun. Comments: (319) 398-8318; email@example.com