Mesa County Surveyor Frank Kochevar was already on the witness stand for three-and-a-half hours on Monday afternoon … and it was clear it was likely going to be another long day when Public Defender Scott Troxell first approached him for cross-examination on Tuesday morning.
“I want to go over a lot of things with you,” Troxell said.
Photos of Michael, Jennifer and Abby Blagg
And by lunch on Wednesday afternoon, that’s exactly what happened (the cross-examination will likely continue for much of the afternoon). Troxell grilled Kochevar about the makeup of the Mesa County landfill, the events of the day Jennifer Blagg’s body was found and the exact GPS measurements he took of evidence related to the case against Michael Blagg.
Michael Blagg, who is more than a decade into what was supposed to be a life sentence for the murder of his wife Jennifer Blagg, has a second chance at freedom after his conviction was thrown out when a juror in his first trial was caught lying on her questionnaire about being the victim of domestic violence.
The case has been moved to Jefferson County due to its notoriety on the Western Slope.
Prosecutors allege that during the early morning hours of Nov. 13, 2001, Michael Blagg shot his 34-year-old wife in the head while she was sleeping, wrapped her body in a tent, loaded it into the family minivan and then threw it into the dumpster at his office, Ametek Dixson.
BACKGROUND AND TIMELINE | After juror caught lying, man convicted in wife's 2001 murder will stand trial again
PREVIOUS STORY | Murder trial focuses on Michael Blagg's demeanor
Blagg’s public defenders argue that a child predator broke into Blagg’s two story home into a quiet subdivision outside of Grand Junction, killed Jennifer Blagg and kidnapped their 6-year-old daughter Abby — who is still missing to this day.
While trying to persuade Judge Tamara Russell to allow evidence that he says indicates Kochevar manipulated mathematical figures to better back up the prosecution’s case, Troxell said the crux of the defense’s argument is the fact that he believes officials in Mesa County never entertained any theories other than that Michael Blagg is guilty, something he says seeped into all tenets of their investigation.
Kochevar was called to the witness stand by the prosecution on Monday afternoon. He took GPS measurements of the weeks-long search of the Mesa County landfill that he says was guided by the location of trash from Ametek Dixson.
This is something that Troxell worked hard to discredit on Tuesday morning by having Kochevar show diagrams indicating the distance between Ametek Dixson trash and where Jennifer Blagg’s body was found wrapped in a tent the morning of June 4, 2002.
While Kochevar typically was watching the landfill search very closely and marking where evidence was found, on that day, he said he was actually operating a bulldozer.
“I was not very happy about that,” he admitted.
He described the day Jennifer Blagg’s body was found as “surreal.”
“I don’t believe there was any happiness whatsoever,” he said.
Jennifer Blagg’s dismembered leg was found in the landfill feet away from where the rest of her body was the next day, Kochevar said.
And even though the goal of the search was to find Jennifer Blagg, Abby Blagg and trash from Ametek Dixson, only two of those things happened before the effort was called off.
Kochevar admitted that in addition to distinct green punch outs from Ametek Dixon, searchers also found hundreds of bright orange flyers from the Home Depot and medical waste from a nearby hospital.
He says he remembered one day when investigators found a whole turkey — evidence he says proves that they would not have missed Abby Blagg’s body among the tons and tons of trash that was dug out from the landfill by heavy machinery.
Troxell’s questions dealt with the logistics of the search; namely how the landfill was organized and how dense the trash was. He seemingly was trying to dispute Kochevar’s assertion that Jennifer Blagg’s body was found in a “vein” of Ametek Dixson trash by bringing up previous testimony that it appeared to actually be a little bit higher in the landfill.
The defense plans to show a report from Kochevar about the density of the landfill after lunch — a report that’s unique because Troxell says he plans to submit not for its truth, but rather it’s “falsity.”
“I’m not familiar with the idea of submitting something for its falsity,” Russell said, minutes before allowing Troxell to do just that.
The rest of the courtroom will find out exactly what this means after lunch.
9NEWS is in the courtroom and will post updates on 9NEWS.com during breaks.