MESA COUNTY, Colo. (KKCO) - Mesa County Judge David Bottger has denied a motion that would have granted convicted murderer Michael Blagg a new trial.
The ruling came down Tuesday morning in the case. In a court document denying the appeal, Judge Bottger writes, "I conclude that Juror C was not actually biased or prejudiced against Defendant, that circumstances do not support an imputation of bias and that her misconduct did not deny Defendant a fair trial. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that Defendant's Motion for New Trial is denied." The document is then signed by Judge Bottger and dated May 18, 2010.
Blagg was found guilty of first degree murder and lesser crimes in the shooting death of his wife Jennifer in 2001 and sentenced to life. Jennifer's body was found in the Mesa County Landfill, the couple's 6-year-old daughter Abby is missing and presumed dead.
In January of 2010, Blagg returned to Mesa County seeking the new trial. His defense argued misconduct of one juror for failing to reveal vision limitations and refusing to disclose she used prescription antidepressant medication. Blagg claimed the alleged misconduct deprived him of a fair trial.
The juror in question did hold a prescription for Xanax, has a prosthetic left eye and suffers from retinitis pigmentosa in her right eye. Blagg's attorneys argued during the appeal that if they had known any of this they would inquired further and challenged her as a juror.
The motion to deny the appeal states the juror's failure to disclose her vision limitations during jury selection was neither deliberate nor knowing. The motion also says that she was never specifically asked about it and she was able to perceive and appreciate the evidence during the trial.
In regard to the juror not disclosing her experience with Xanax, Judge Bottger writes it's, "troubling because it was deliberate." But the judge writes in his decision that he is not aware of any authority that deliberate nondisclosure is conclusive proof of bias automatically requiring a new trial.
The Colorado Supreme Court refused to review an appeal made by Blagg in 2008.
For more on this story and to hear what the Mesa County District Attorney's Office has to say on the ruling, watch 11 News Tuesday night at 5:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.
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