Wagner, previously pleaded guilty in connection to Bagley death, testifies in Blahnik trial
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A man involved in the death of Chris Bagley in late 2018 took the stand in the murder trial of Drew Blahnik on Monday in a marathon session.
Drew Wagner was the eighth witness of the trial of Blahnik, who faces first-degree murder charges, among others.
Wagner previously pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, assault while participating in a felony, conspiracy to commit a forcible felony, abuse of a corpse, and obstructing prosecution in June 2020. As part of the plea deal, Wagner agreed to testify against Blahnik.
In his plea agreement, Wagner admitted that he and Blahnik got into a fight with Chris Bagley at a trailer home owned by another man, Paul Hoff. During the fight, Wagner held Bagley against the wall while Blahnik stabbed Bagley. Wagner then admitted to being part of a group that moved Bagley’s body to Wagner’s home on Soutter Ave SE in Cedar Rapids, where they buried him.
On the prosecution’s questioning, Wagner described the events of December 13, 2018, which is when prosecutors say Bagley was killed. Wagner said that Blahnik came to his home late at night and said he “needed to handle something for Andy,” suggesting that Andy Shaw wanted Blahnik to kill Bagley. Wagner testified that Bagley had stolen drugs and other property from Shaw on more than one occasion. Wagner said he himself had purchased drugs to distribute in Cedar Rapids from Shaw, describing him as a “large-scale marijuana trafficker.” Shaw operated out of multiple shops in the city to distribute the illegal drugs.
Wagner and Blahnik, who had a knife in his possession that night, got into a car and went to find Bagley at Hoff’s trailer home, but didn’t see Bagley’s truck in the area. Prosecutors showed a video of Wagner’s truck circling through the trailer park on that night.
After returning to Wagner’s home, he said that he and Blahnik contacted Hoff by phone, who said that Bagley was now with him at the trailer. They returned to the trailer park, with a plan for Wagner to pull Hoff into a separate room in the trailer from Bagley to ask if he was okay with the idea of Blahnik killing Bagley. However, if Wagner heard Blahnik laugh from the other room, he said that meant Blahnik had made the decision to only rough up Bagley rather than end his life.
Wagner claimed that he heard Blahnik laugh, so he emerged from the separate room. Bagley was talking about a plan to rob another group of people he called the “slew crew.” Wagner thought the robbery idea was bad and dangerous, claiming that the group had nothing of value to take and weapons like an AR-15.
In response to Wagner’s pushback, Bagley held up a set of keys that he claimed were Shaw’s. Following this, Wagner said that he and Bagley got into a shoving match, with Wagner facing away from Blahnik while holding Bagley in a headlock. That’s when Blahnik got involved in the altercation, stabbing Bagley.
Wagner claimed that he didn’t want the incident to go further than the shoving match that had begun, but that Blahnik got involved and things changed.
“I didn’t want him to get hurt,” Wagner testified, while getting visibly emotional. “I know it sounds crazy, but I didn’t want him to get hurt. Nobody should get hurt like that.”
Despite his attempts to get the other men to do so, Wagner said that Hoff and Blahnik were not interested in calling 911 for medical help for Bagley. Wagner claimed he got very upset in the moment, but was being told by Blahnik to “chill out, relax,” while he and Hoff discussed where to get breakfast that morning.
Wagner then agreed to help Blahnik further, agreeing to drive him again. Hoff and Blahnik wrapped Bagley’s body in plastic, according to Wagner, which was removed from the trailer by the two men through a window. The body was then put in the back of Wagner’s pickup truck and covered it with plywood.
After the body was removed, Blahnik and Hoff worked to dispose of evidence in the trailer. Wagner said that he helped Hoff remove blood from the home, including removing pieces of the floor. Blahnik disposed of the knife used to stab Bagley, according to Wagner.
At a later date, Wagner said that Blahnik took the truck with Bagley’s body to Wisconsin to bury it, but then Blahnik decided against that plan. Wagner said that he came home to find Hoff and Blahnik burying Bagley’s body at his Soutter Ave SE rental home.
“[Blahnik] said that Paul had wanted to kill me, and he came up with a way for me to live I guess, by burying the body at my house,” Wagner said.
Wagner said that Shaw attempted to pay him for his involvement in Bagley’s death on multiple occasions. In a visit to one of Shaw’s shops after the murder, Shaw gave Wagner 10 bundles of cash, possibly totaling $10,,000, with an extra $4,000 to $8,000 worth of drugs to give to Blahnik. Wagner said he was also instructed to give marijuana to Hoff.
The prosecution ended its round of questioning of Wagner, turning the proceedings over to the defense. Leon Spies, Blahnik’s attorney, led with questions about Blahnik’s plea deal and involvement in drug dealing.
Wagner said that he found out that Bagley and another man named Dan Kascel had begun doing meth, which changed Bagley’s personality.
The trial is in recess until 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, when the defense’s questioning of Wagner will resume.
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