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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — A judge granted a name change request for a Cedar Rapids man sentenced last week to 57 years in prison for killing Chris Bagley, but Drew Blahnik’s murder conviction will remain under his birth name.
Blahnik, 34, will now also be known as Johnny Blahnik Church, 6th Judicial District Judge Christopher Bruns said in his order filed last Friday after Blahnik’s sentencing.
There have been no objections to the name change, and Bruns only delayed the petition until after Blahnik’s case was resolved to avoid confusion in the court record.
Blahnik, who claimed self-defense, was convicted by a Linn County jury in July of second-degree murder, obstruction of prosecution and abuse of a corpse. He stabbed Bagley, 31, of Walker, 13 times in the neck and torso on Dec. 14, 2018.
According to trial testimony, Blahnik “hunted down” Bagley on behalf of drug dealer Andrew Shaw, who wanted Bagley killed.
Drew Wagner, also convicted in the case, testified that Bagley had robbed Shaw of drugs and money. Shaw, not charged in Bagley’s slaying, is in federal prison after being convicted of being a large-scale marijuana trafficker in Cedar Rapids.
Blahnik, during his sentencing, said he was only sorry for what happened after “I killed Chris.” He had no remorse and said he felt he hadn’t received justice because the judge gave the jury a verdict-urging instruction when the members were deadlocked.
Earlier this year, Blahnik filed his name change petition, stating he wanted to change his name to further his aspirations of becoming an actor using the name Johnny Church. He had started taking acting classes before his arrest and trail.
“Upon being released, I plan to jump right back into my pursuit of happiness with a career of acting and voice-overs,” Blahnik stated in the name-change petition.
Blahnik must serve 35 years of his 57-year sentence before being eligible for parole.
Blahnik stated the other reason he wanted to change his name was a “link between myself and another individual sharing the same name” that’s causing him “severe post-traumatic stress to the point of hearing my first name acts as a trigger to the past and these events that have occurred which I plan to leave in the past and move forward.”
The individual Blahnik likely was referring to was Drew Wagner.
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