116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — A Cedar Rapids man already convicted of his role in the 2018 fatal stabbing of Chris Bagley testified Monday for the prosecution — telling jurors about how defendant Drew Blahnik carried out the killing on behalf of their mutual drug dealer as revenge for robberies.
Blahnik is on trial for first-degree murder. He has pleaded not guilty and plans to claim self-defense or defense of another during the trial.
In the early morning hours of Dec. 14, 2018, Drew Wagner said he and Blahnik, 34, went to the mobile home of Paul Hoff in Cedar Rapids to harm Bagley.
Wagner was supposed to take Hoff to another room and leave Blahnik with Bagley in the front room. But soon Wagner got into an argument with Bagley, and it turned into a shoving match. Bagley told Wagner he wasn’t as tough as he thought. Blahnik was behind Bagley — smiling because their plan was about to be carried out, Wagner told jurors.
Drug dealer Andrew Shaw wanted to see Bagley killed because he had robbed Shaw of money and drugs and beat him up in one incident, Wagner testified.
Wagner said Bagley had stolen amounts from $23,000 to up to $200,000 from Shaw. He said Shaw asked Blahnik if he would kill Bagley for “something grand” — he said he didn’t hear dollar amount. Blahnik replied that it would “cost you way more than that.” They talked in November 2018 about getting an untraceable “ghost gun” with a silencer, Wagner testified Monday.
During the shoving match, Wagner said he grabbed Bagley by the shirt and threw him against a wall. He then “charged” Bagley and put him in a bear hug. The men were face to face, and Wagner told Bagley to “chill out,” he testified.
Wagner said he didn’t want to hurt Bagley but Blahnik yelled ‘gun, gun.’ Wagner said he didn’t see a gun on Bagley but did see one on the floor. He said he never saw Bagley reach for a gun or point one at him during the fight.
Wagner then got hold of Bagley from behind, and put him in a headlock to prevent him from moving. He said it soon felt like “something bit my hand.” Later, he testified, he realized he had been stabbed by Blahnik, who had meant to stab Bagley instead.
Blahnik told Wagner to let go of Bagley and Wagner walked away to get his glasses that had been knocked off in the fight. As he turned back, he said he saw Blahnik making a stabbing motion with his arm. Blahnik had Bagley by the hair or his head, he told jurors.
Wagner said he didn’t know how many times Bagley was stabbed. According to testimony from Friday in the trial, Bagley died from 17 stab wounds to his neck and torso.
Bagley was never a threat, Wagner said. If Blahnik hadn’t gotten involved, Bagley wouldn’t have been seriously hurt.
“The defendant (Blahnik) is a lot stronger than Bagley and knows how to fight,” Wagner said.
After the stabbing, he saw Blahnik hand the knife to Hoff. Wagner said Hoff never tried to intervene. Wagner said he “instinctively” said they should call 911.
“I saw he was hurt and needed help,” said Wagner, tearing up during his testimony.
Blahnik didn’t say the stabbing was in self-defense or suggested calling police at the time, Wagner said. Blahnik and Hoff mentioned going to breakfast at Perkins after Bagley was dead. Blahnik told Wagner he needed to “chill out if you want to get out of here.”
Hoff brought out a tarp, like one used for painting, and he and Blahnik wrapped up Bagley’s body, Wagner said. Blahnik handed Wagner his keys and told him to back up his truck to the rear window. They then pushed the body through the window and loaded it into the truck. All three men helped move the body, he said.
Wagner said a piece of plywood was in the truck and placed over Bagley’s body. He drove the truck with Blahnik in the passenger seat to Wagner’s house. The knife used in the stabbing was in a plastic grocery bag, along with some other bloody items, and was on the floorboard by Blahnik’s feet.
According to surveillance video that law enforcement found during the investigation, the men left the mobile home at 5:48 a.m. and went to Wagner’s home. During the ride, Blahnik was worried about Wagner’s stab wound on his hand and how they would explain it. He apologized to Wagner for how it all “went down.” Blahnik continued to tell Wagner he needed his help, Wagner testified.
Blahnik took the bag with the knife and gathered up Wagner’s shirt, putting it in a bigger bag with other items and took it with him when he left. The truck with Bagley’s body stayed in Wagner’s garage. Wagner then drove a different truck to Hoff’s to help him remove flooring that contained Bagley’s blood, Wagner said.
Wagner said he went to meet Shaw at his investments business. Wagner told him what happened and Shaw gave him marijuana for Hoff, a package of about $10,000 in cash, some THC wax and 100 THC cartridges for Blahnik as pay for the killing. Wagner said he didn’t want any money from Shaw, but said Shaw tried later to charge him less than usual for marijuana that Wagner would sell.
Shaw has been convicted in federal court of marijuana trafficking. The charges stemmed from the Bagley investigation, but Shaw has not been charged in this case. He remains in federal prison.
Blahnik picked up the truck that night and planned to go to Wisconsin for an acting and modeling event, Wagner said. Blahnik, in a name change petition filed last year, has aspirations of pursuing an acting career and asked the court to change his name to “Johnny Church” for acting purposes. He has a hearing on that after this trial.
Wagner said Blahnik planned to bury the body in Wisconsin but didn’t. Instead, he brought the body back to Wagner’s house and buried it in yard on Soutter Avenue SE. Blahnik told Wagner that Hoff wanted to kill him, and he had to bury the body at Wagner’s home so Wagner would have something to lose if he told authorities. Blahnik promised to remove the body in the spring, Wagner testified.
In February 2019, law enforcement obtained a search warrant for Wagner’s house and questioned him about Bagley’s disappearance. He said he told them a “partial truth” — that Blahnik stabbed Bagley in self-defense. He admitted on the stand that he wasn’t truthful with investigators more than once.
Bagley’s body was excavated March 1, 2019, from the yard.
Wagner’s testimony will continue 9 a.m. Tuesday. The trial is expected to go into next week.
Follow Trish Mehaffey on Twitter for daily live coverage from the courtroom. Comments: (319) 398-8318; firstname.lastname@example.org