JEFFERSON COUNTY — What Michael Blagg’s coworkers observed in the months surrounding the disappearance of his wife and daughter was the focus of the prosecution’s case as the second week of testimony drew to a close.
“Maybe I did notice some differences,” said Shawn Wallace, a coworker from Ametek-Dixson. “He just appeared to get more distant from the conversations we would have.”
Wallace, who choked up multiple times, said Michael Blagg was his friend. They bonded over the fact that they both served in the military.
On Nov. 13, 2001 — the day Jennifer and Abby Blag disappeared — Wallace reportedly testified that he offered to help Michael Blagg push a cart filled with boxes and trash. Michael Blagg told him to go away.
That’s an important detail for the prosecution. They allege Michael Blagg spent that day filling the dumpster at Ametek-Dixson because he’d dumped his wife body inside during the early morning hours after shooting her inside their Grand Junction home.
The plant had a policy to call for a pickup whenever the dumpster was full.
Abby Blagg has never been found, but Jennifer Blagg’s body was discovered in the Mesa County landfill in June 2002 near some trash from Ametek-Dixson.
Purchasing manager Linda Gardiner identified some of those items for the jury Friday. She also said Michael Blagg grew more cynical and sour in the weeks leading up to his family’s disappearance.
The defense alleges a child predator broke into the home after Michael Blagg left for work that day, killed his wife and kidnapped the couple’s 6-year-old daughter.
To counter the narrative that Michael Blagg’s demeanor changed, the defense read parts of his annual employee evaluations aloud.
The 2000 and 2001 evaluations included lines like “He personally produces work of a very high quality” and “Mike is a very positive figure in Ametek culture.”
Public defender Tina Fang also told the jury about all the work obligations Michael Blagg had around the time of the murder, including responsibility for moving a production line to Mexico, the consolidation of two plants and a special training that took place on Nov. 13, 2001.
Gardiner painted a different picture.
She talked about how she saw Michael Blagg behaving strangely in January 2002 — so strangely she and a co-worker followed him after he left the plant one night in the company truck.
She also alluded to a suspicion Michael Blagg was stealing furniture and other equipment from Ametek-Dixson.
Gardiner told the jury that she and the plant’s general manager marked the underside of two pieces of furniture “in case they went missing.”
Mesa County public defender Tina Fang challenged Gardiner about her observations of Michael Blagg. Part of Fang’s defense is that the police planted the idea that Michael Blagg was a murder in the minds of his friends and coworkers.
Fang asked Gardiner whether Michael Blagg seemed tired or had difficulty moving around the morning his wife disappeared. She said no.
Testimony is scheduled to continue at the Jefferson County courthouse Monday at 8:30 a.m.