Tammy Eret lived in the house right next to Jennifer, Michael and Abby Blagg, but said she thought they had moved out months before the home became the site of one of Mesa County’s most notorious crime scenes.
She testified Friday morning that the family’s blinds and garage door were always closed. Eret said she never saw anyone outside, and had never met Jennifer Blagg, though she would wave at the 34-year-old’s husband and daughter in passing.
At around 4:20 p.m. on Nov. 13, 2001, Eret said she went home from work at the Mesa County District Attorney’s Office early, and was behind a white vehicle that was driving slowly around the cul-de-sac outside her house on Pine Terrace Court.
Eret said she thought it was someone selling stuff door to door, and testified she stalled and went to the mailbox so she wouldn’t have to speak to them.
It wasn’t until the car parked outside of the house next door and Michael Blagg got out that Eret realized it was her neighbor. She says they exchanged a friendly wave, and both went inside their respective homes.
Minutes later, Michael Blagg called 911 and said the back door of his two-story house was ajar, and that there was a massive pool of blood on his wife’s side of the bed. Jennifer Blagg and their 6-year-old daughter Abby were gone.
Jennifer Blagg’s body was found in the Mesa County landfill on June 4, 2002 — on the 17th day of a search ordered by investigators. Michael Blagg was arrested two days later and found guilty of his wife’s murder in 2004.
That conviction was thrown out after a juror was caught lying on her questionnaire about being the victim of domestic violence. And now, Michael Blagg is standing trial once again — this time in Jefferson County, where the case was moved because of its notoriety on the Western Slope.
Prosecutors allege that Blagg shot and killed his wife while she was sleeping, wrapped her body in a tent and loaded it into the family minivan. He then took her body to his workplace, Ametek Dixson, and threw it into a dumpster.
The defense argues that a child predator killed Jennifer Blagg and kidnapped Abby, and that the investigation has been tainted by a false assumption that it’s “always the husband.”
To this day, Abby Blagg has never been found.
Opening statements in the second trial of Blagg were delivered on Tuesday.
Eret was the first witness called to the stand on Friday. Her testimony was bookended by portions of a five-and-a-half hour video Blagg conducted with investigators shortly after he reported his wife and daughter missing.
In the video, Blagg tells police that when he came home from work the afternoon of Nov. 13, 2001, he was carrying Christmas presents that he wanted to put into the closet before Abby noticed.
Eret says when she spotted him outside his home moments before he called 911, he wasn’t carrying anything.
Before Eret was called to the stand, Blagg’s public defenders said they were against portions of her testimony alleging that the Blaggs were a reclusive family who always kept the blinds closed, arguing that this was meant to make the jury infer they were “creepy” or odd.
Judge Tamara Russell agreed, and wouldn’t let the jury hear this particular section of testimony.
RELATED | Five stories of Nov. 13, 2001
Eret was called to the stand to punctuate Blagg’s video interview with investigators, which is difficult to hear at times. The jury was given a transcript to follow along with.
They had already heard roughly three hours of the video during the last two days of the trial.
In the portion of the video shown on Friday, Blagg is seen giving investigators his shirt to test for evidence. He repeatedly denies having anything to do with his wife and daughter’s disappearance.
“My No. 1 concern is making you to get up and say ‘ok, let’s find the people who did this,” Blagg says at one point.
During the interview, Blagg is calm and speaks in measured tones. He does not appear particularly emotional, though when police leave the room, he sits with his head in his hands.
At one point, one of the investigators asked Michael Blagg how he managed to stay so calm even though his wife and daughter were missing, and he saw what he described as the most blood he’d ever seen.
“It’s only through the strength of the Holy Spirit that I’m here right now,” Blagg responded. “Every core of my body wants to scream and shout.”
Blagg is a Navy veteran, and said he participated in a one-week course that taught him, in part, how to respond if he was ever interrogated.
“I learned it would be better to escape,” he joked to investigators.
Mesa County Sgt. Wayne Weyler was one of the two investigators in the room for the interview. Once the video finished, he was called to the witness stand again to discuss his role in the investigation and interactions with Blagg.
He detailed how on Nov. 26, 2001, he ran into Blagg in the lobby of the sheriff’s office. Blagg asked him if they had identified the blood found on the mattress yet. Weyler said he said no, that they were still looking for a DNA profile. Weyler says Blagg then told him they should check his wife’s retainer case.
Photos of Michael, Jennifer and Abby Blagg
“It struck me as funny he mentioned the retainer case and not the retainer,” Weyler said.
When Jennifer Blagg’s body was found, her retainer was still in her mouth. She wore it every night when she slept, and prosecutors say this is evidence that she was killed in the middle of the night.
The defense said their cross-examination of Weyler on Friday morning was “meant to be confrontational.” Public Defender Tina Fang said she thought the prosecution was frequently objecting to her questions to intentionally interfere with her flow.
She asked Weyler about comments he made in the 2004 trial about how wearing full-body suits into a crime scene is something “we don’t do in America.”
Weyler said that was out of context, and he felt it was alright for him to go into the crime scene at the Blagg house with just gloves and booties the night of the murder.
Fang’s cross-examination dealt with the seven people who went into the crime scene before it was processed by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, and she asked Weyler repeatedly if he contaminated the Blagg house.
Outside of the presence of the jury, Fang said she wanted Weyler’s testimony to set up a doctor the defense is calling to the stand later on in the trial.
The prosecution says it will be calling Weyler to testify again.
9NEWS is in the courtroom and will be posting updates about the trial during breaks on 9NEWS.com.