116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — The man accused of fatally stabbing Chris Bagley has asked a court to allow him to change his name to further his aspirations of becoming an actor.
Drew Blahnik, charged with first-degree murder, said in his name change petition that he has been planning to change his name to “Johnny Blahnik Church” for over two years and now “strongly” feels it’s time. Before his arrest and pending trial, he said he had started taking acting classes that developed into him wanting to pursue it as a career.
Blahnik, 33, of Cedar Rapids, in the petition, said within seven months of two different acting classes he “secured an invitation out to Los Angeles for a competition — The International Models and Talent Association.” He also would drive back and forth to Chicago in an attempt to secure an agent.
During these interviews and auditions, he said he found a management company to represent him. During his acting pursuits he went by the stage name of “Johnny Church.”
“Upon being released, I plan to jump right back into my pursuit of happiness with a career of acting and voice overs,” Blahnik states in the petition.
His other reason he gave for wanting to formally change his name is that there is 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.”
Blahnik, in the petition, said he would be happy to elaborate more on this during the hearing because it’s “very sensitive information.”
The individual Blahnik likely is referring to with the same first name is Drew Wagner, who pleaded to voluntary manslaughter and other charges and admitted to starting a fight Dec. 14, 2018, with Bagley for robbing their drug dealer. Wagner said he held Bagley down while Blahnik repeatedly stabbed him.
Along with the petition, Blahnik also intends to give power of attorney for his finances to his mother, according to court documents.
Sixth Judicial District Judge Mary Chicchelly has set a hearing on Blahnik’s petition for July 9 in Linn County District Court.
Blahnik, who plans to claim self-defense or in defense of others in his murder trial, also is charged with abuse of a corpse and obstruction of prosecution in Bagley's death.
Wagner, during his plea, said he and Blahnik buried Bagley, 31, who went missing Dec. 14, 2018, in the yard of a southeast Cedar Rapids home where Wagner was living at the time. Bagley's body was excavated from the ground next to the house March 1, 2019.
If convicted of first-degree murder, Blahnik faces life in prison without parole. His trial is set for July 13.
Wagner faces up to 37 years in prison. He will be sentenced after testifying against Blahnik.
Paul Hoff, 41, of Cedar Rapids, already sentenced in federal court to 14 years for firearms and drugs violations, also is charged in Bagley's death with abuse of a corpse and obstruction of prosecution. He is being tried separately.
Comments: (319) 398-8318; firstname.lastname@example.org