CHRIS BAGLEY

Man accused of fatally stabbing Chris Bagley will claim self-defense at trial

Hearing set next week on change of venue

Drew Blahnik
Drew Blahnik

CEDAR RAPIDS — The man accused of fatally stabbing Chris Bagley, a Walker man who went missing Dec. 13, 2018, and was found 76 days later buried in southeast Cedar Rapids, plans to claim self-defense at trial.

Drew Blahnik, 32, of Cedar Rapids, filed his notice of defense Monday in Linn County District Court.

Blahnik and Drew Wagner, 34, also of Cedar Rapids, are each charged with first-degree murder, abuse of a corpse and obstruction of prosecution. They have jointly asked for separate trials because they were indicted together, and they have asked for their trials to be moved out of Linn County based on pretrial publicity.

A judge will hear those arguments March 20. The trial for both previously was set for July 6.

Paul Hoff, 40, of Cedar Rapids, already sentenced to 14 years for firearms and drugs, is charged in Bagley’s death with abuse of a corpse and obstruction of prosecution. He is being tried separately. His trial is set for Aug. 17. That date could be reset because Hoff likely will testify against Blahnik and Wagner.

Several people connected with Bagley, 31, through drug activities have been charged or convicted of drugs and firearms violations in the investigation.

Bagley, a husband and father of two, left home with a woman his wife didn’t know and did not return.

At a federal court hearing in April, authorities said Bagley was killed during a fight over the drug robberies of Andrew Shaw, 31, of Cedar Rapids, a convicted, large-scale marijuana trafficker who will be sentenced next week in federal court.

Bagley, Blahnik, Wagner and Hoff sold drugs for Shaw, according to testimony.

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Wagner confronted Bagley about the robberies Dec. 14, 2018, at Hoff’s mobile home, and the two started fighting, authorities said. Blahnik stabbed Bagley, as Wagner pinned him against a wall, federal agents testified.

Wagner and Blahnik buried Bagley in the yard where Wagner was living in Cedar Rapids. Authorities didn’t find the body until March 1.

If convicted of first-degree murder, Blahnik and Wagner face life in prison without the parole. Hoff, if convicted, faces up to seven years.

Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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