JEFFERSON COUNTY — Jurors deciding whether Michael Blagg murdered his wife saw evidence of martial problems Tuesday.
They saw a note with a list of suggested behaviors like “Do not get angry and strike back when Jennifer confronts me” and “Be humble in her criticism.”
Mesa County Sheriff’s Office investigator Mike Piechota described PowerPoint presentations filled with pornographic images he found on a copy of the Blaggs’ desktop computer.
“I looked through every file,” Piechota said.
The prosecution alleges Michael Blagg shot his wife, wrapped her body in a tent, loaded it in the family minivan and left it in a dumpster at his work. The two deputy district attorneys claim martial problems were part of Michael Blagg’s motive.
Piechota told the jury he found those pornographic images while reviewing data from three computers, two found in the Blagg home and one from Ametek-Dixson where Michael Blagg worked. He also sent copies of those hard drives to the FBI.
The FBI review was an important point for the defense.
Back in December 2001, Piechota told the deputies investigating Michael Blagg that the home desktop computer’s internet files showed someone viewed pornography the night before Jennifer and Abby Blagg went missing. The deputies used that information to question Michael Blagg, but the FBI later discovered Piechota made a mistake.
“You are aware that information turned out to be false,” Public Defender Scott Troxell said.
“Yes,” Piechota replied.
One core tenet of the defense’s case is that investigators focused on Blagg to the exclusion of leads pointing to a different killer — possibly one who wanted the Blagg’s 6-year-old daughter.
Abby Blagg is still missing, but her mother’s body was found in the Mesa County landfill.
Deputies arrested Michael Blagg, and a jury convicted him of killing his wife back in 2004. He was serving a life sentence until a judge overturned that conviction. Blagg’s defense team discovered a juror lied about being the victim of domestic violence.
Troxell pushed back on the martial problem theory by having Piechota hold up a bottle of lubricant that was found in the master bedroom. He also introduced forms showing Michael Blagg consented to a search of his AOL account history.
The rest of Tuesday was spent walking the jury through dozens of items collected from the Blagg’s home, including an insurance list of the home’s valuables, blood soaked sheets and a note from Michael Blagg to his wife.
The note read, in part, “I would love to take some time today to talk through the problems we are having,” and ended with “I will always love you.”
Deputy Mesa County District Attorney Trish Mahre walked each item past the jury and asked Lori Grover, an evidence technician with the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, to describe how she collected, packaged, stored and prepared them for the trial.
The questioning was repetitive at times, but the prosecution needed to put each item in evidence to build its case against the now 55-year-old Michael Blagg.
Some of the items — like the tent found wrapped around Jenifer Blagg’s body — weren’t brought to court.
“The odor is very bad, so we had to put them in a separate building,” Grover said. “And even today the odor is still very bad.”
The defense zeroed in on two pieces of evidence Grover processed back in 2001: a pair of Jennifer Blagg’s underwear and a white, long-sleeve shirt belonging to Abby Blagg.
The items were in plastic bags within one paper bag when Grover received them, but the defense pressed her on whether the two items could have been commingled before she got them.
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Grover didn’t know.
Contamination is another central defense theme. Defense attorney Tina Fang has questioned several witnesses about whether they contaminated the crime scene.
Testimony is scheduled to continue at Jefferson County courthouse Wednesday at 8:30 a.m.