116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Stewart Bagley would only refer to his son’s killer as “coward” during a victim impact statment Friday because “that’s what he is and his name should not get any press.”
Drew Blahnik, 34, convicted in of the Dec. 14, 2018, stabbing of Chris Bagley, 31, of Walker, was sentenced during the Friday hearing to 57 years in prison, the maximum available to the court.
Stewart Bagley, in his victim impact statement, said Blahnik and his partner, Drew Wagner, “went hunting” three years ago this week.
“They went hunting on the order of their boss, Andy Shaw, to kill my son. When this was done, they were paid in cash and drugs,” he said.
“The coward can say whatever he wants, but it’s all B.S. It only took them 12 minutes from the time they arrived to go in and start a fight, hold Chris down, brutally stab Chris 13 times, cover Chris in plastic, load him into the back of a truck and leave.”
Bagley said all he has left of his son is pictures, a “small box of ashes” and a cross holding some of the his son’s ashes that he wears around his neck.
“The coward has destroyed the picture in my head of Chris. All I can see now is that picture of Chris lying on the slab. The “hole inside my heart” will never go away, he said.
Bagley and the other family members who gave statements Friday asked 6th Judicial District Judge Christopher Bruns to give Blahnik the maximum sentence.
Bruns did, ordering 57 years in prison — 50 years on the second-degree murder charge, five years for abuse of a corpse and two years for obstruction of prosecution, and ordering that the terms run consecutively.
Blahnik, convicted by a Linn County jury in July, must serve 70 percent of that time, or 35 years on the murder sentence, before being eligible for parole.
The judge also ordered Blahnik to pay $150,000 in restitution to Bagley’s heirs or estate and $19,500 to the victim’s assistance fund.
Blahnik, during sentencing, said he was sorry for everything that happened after “I killed Chris.”
He said Chris Bagley made his choice to pull a gun and he (Blahnik) did what anybody would do in that situation — it was “basic human instinct.”
He also had disparaging comments about the prosecutors and said justice wasn’t done because of the “court’s outside influence” of giving jurors the “Allen charge” — a verdict-urging instruction when the jury reported being deadlocked.
Blahnik said the juror who didn’t agree with the other 11 has told Blahnik’s lawyer she would have stayed with her decision if the instruction hadn’t been given.
No new trial
Bruns denied Blahnik’s motion for a new trial last week, ruling there was sufficient evidence to show Blahnik plotted and carried out Bagley’s murder by repeatedly stabbing Bagley “with such ferocity” that it showed the killing was unjustified.
Bruns, in his ruling, said the testimony and evidence at trial established that Shaw, a drug dealer Bagley had previously robbed and assaulted, wanted Bagley dead. Credible evidence showed that Shaw, who has not been charged in Bagley’s death, asked Blahnik to kill Bagley.
Christine Bagley, Chris Bagley’s mother, tearing up at times, said Friday marks three years and four days since she had a hug from her son — a strong and loving hug she remembers like it was yesterday.
Before Chris went missing in December 2018, she recalled Chris telling her he planned to take to better himself, away from the path he'd gone down of using drugs and selling them. He said he planned get help for his drug addiction.
As he left and hugged her, he told her, “I’ll see you later, mom. I love you.”
It was another 77 days — on March 1, 2019 — before authorities found her son’s body buried in southeast Cedar Rapids.
Christine Bagley said she knew something had happened when Chris didn’t show up for Christmas.
“I had no idea at that point that the truth was even worse than I had imagined,” Christine Bagley said. “The truth about what you did to my son, my child, that night.”
Courtney Bagley, describing her husband as her “best friend and my children’s father,” asked Blahnik to look at pictures from Chris’ life.
“The first one is a father who met his baby for the first time,” she said. “The pride on his face shows how happy he was to be a dad. The second is the fun he loved to have at his kids’ birthday parties.”
Another photo was of their first Christmas without Chris — 12 days after “you took his life.” She said she was sure Blahnik was with his family or on a “bender,” but Chris was in the “ground buried in your friend’s yard after you took his life.”
The last photo was of their Christmas last year and what they now do on holidays.
“Look close and take this in,” she told Blahnik, who did not look at her. “They have to go to the cemetery to tell their dad Happy Father’s Day. We also go there for his birthday, our anniversary and randomly when the kids or I just need Christopher Bagley.”
Courtney said Blahnik he had taken everything away from them. Her kids now have to talk to a “box” on their birthday or a holiday.
Jon Bagley, Chris’ brother, said in his statement, read by his wife, Mandy, that he hoped Blahnik “rots in hell.”
“You not only did this for drugs and money, but you did if from behind,” Jon Bagley said. “You are not a man. I hope you see his face — Chris smiling back at you knowing you are getting yours.”
Jon Bagley told Blahnik he will have no name in prison — only a number. Blahnik will no longer have any hopes and dreams.
“I’ll never forget what you did to my brother,” he said. “I hope God forgives you because I never will.”
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