116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — A Cedar Rapids man, already serving a federal prison term for firearms and drugs, pleaded guilty to lying more than once to authorities about what happened to Chris Bagley, who was fatally stabbed in a mobile home Dec. 14, 2018.
Paul Hoff, 42, filed a written guilty plea to obstructing prosecution, an aggravated misdemeanor. The other charge of abuse of a corpse will be dismissed at sentencing, as part of the plea agreement.
Hoff faces two years in prison, which may result in time served because he has been in jail for about 19 months, Assistant Linn County Attorney Monica Slaughter said. His sentencing hasn’t yet been set and he likely will go back into federal custody.
Hoff is serving 14 years on federal firearms and drugs.
Hoff’s testimony in August during the trial for Drew Blahnik, convicted of fatally stabbing Bagley during the early morning hours of Dec. 14, 2018 at Hoff’s mobile home, was part of the plea agreement, Slaughter said. She said the prosecution went forward with the plea deal because Hoff cooperated with investigators and gave truthful and consistent testimony.
Hoff, during Blahnik’s trial, testified that Bagley sank to the floor after the first stab to his left side — “like it let the air out of him.” Blahnik then continued to stab Bagley several more times on his upper body and neck, using a “survival-type knife with a 10-inch blade,” according to Hoff.
The other man, who came to Hoff’s trailer with Blahnik, Drew Wagner, also convicted in this case, got into a shoving match with Bagley over Bagley’s robbing of their mutual drug dealer, Andrew Shaw.
When Wagner arrived at the trailer, Blahnik — whom Hoff said he had not met before that night — was with him. Wagner asked to talk to Hoff in the back bedroom and said they were going to beat up Bagley. Hoff thought that meant they would fight and it would be over.
Hoff said Wagner confronted Bagley about taking money and drugs from Shaw and they started shoving each other. Wagner grabbed Bagley from behind in a “bear hug.” Blahnik got up from stool and pulled the knife from behind his back and, in a punching motion, started stabbing Bagley and screaming like a “maniac,” Hoff testified.
Hoff admitted to helping the others roll up the body in a tarp and taking it out a rear window of the trailer to load into Wagner’s truck. Hoff then took a piece of wood and placed it over the body.
Hoff said he wasn’t involved in burying the body.
Blahnik and Wagner said Bagley had a gun and Blahnik claimed self-defense at his trial, but Hoff testified there wasn’t a gun. Hoff was the only one with a gun that night.
Blahnik, in his grand jury testimony played at trial, said he saw Bagley reach behind his back for the gun during the struggle, so he grabbed a knife from a counter and started stabbing Bagley to protect Wagner and himself.
He said Bagley was the aggressor and he feared for his life.
A medical examiner said Bagley was stabbed 13 times in the neck and torso. Most of the wounds — to the stomach, spinal column, spleen and abdomen — could have been fatal, the examiner said.
Blahnik, originally charged with first-degree murder, was convicted by a jury on second-degree murder, obstruction of prosecution and abuse of corpse. Blahnik faces up to 57 years in prison.
The body was found March 1, 2019, under a pile of lumber and a canoe near Wagner’s garage. Law enforcement officers had to warm the frozen ground before they could dig through snow and ice to recover the body.
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