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In grand jury testimony, Blahnik says ‘muscle memory’ from military training contributed to stabbing of Chris Bagley

Drew Blahnik.
Drew Blahnik.
Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 3:15 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Drew Blahnik said he acted quickly and in self-defense when he stabbed Chris Bagley to death in 2018.

On day six of his first-degree murder trial, a transcript of what Blahnik testified in front of a grand jury in October of 2019 was read in it’s entirety. At that time, Blahnik told a grand jury about his background in the military, which included training in knife fighting. He said he served in combat and, at time, had to kill people.

“I wasn’t thinking at that time that was just muscle memory kicking in,” Blahnik said, of the moment he began stabbing Bagley.

Blahnik said he first met Bagley in Marion when he moved into the loft apartment Bagley was moving out of. He described their relationship as mere acquaintances.

Blahnik said on December 13, 2018, he planned to work overnight on a remodel in Drew Wagner’s basement. Blahnik told the grand jury that Wagner’s cousin Josh was his best friend, but he died in 2012. Blahnik and Wagner had known each other for years.

Blahnik said early in the morning on December 14, 2018, they decided to go to Paul Hoff’s Trailer on Mount Vernon Road to get some tools for the remodel. He said Wagner may have wanted to get some drugs while there too.

“We went inside and he had, so this bar was in the middle, and there were some stools sitting around here and Chris Bagley was right here,” Blahnik told the grand jury.

Blahnik said it was his first time at Hoff’s trailer.

“Drew Wagner started talking to Chris Bagley about a gun he had purchased from Drew Wagner and he still owed him some money on it,” Blahnik said.

“And then Chris took a step toward Wagner and was getting highly agitated and Drew Wagner at that point in time was trying to talk him down a little bit and was saying ‘hey we’ll figure it out tomorrow,’ because it looked like Chris Bagley was pretty high at the time and pretty aggressive,” Blahnik added.

Blahnik told the grand jury the argument between Bagley and Wagner turned into a wrestling match.

“I seen him reach back and at first I didn’t see it. And I took a step back when Drew Wagner yelled gun, gun. And that’s when I seen the top,” Blahnik said.

Blahnik claimed that he saw Bagley pull out a gun and that’s when he decided to react in self-defense.

“Both of our lives were in danger,” Blahnik said.

Blahnik told the grand jury that he was not on drugs and did not have his own weapon at the time he killed Bagley. Instead, he said he noticed three knives sitting out on Hoff’s bar.

“I felt safer going for the knife since I was outgunned,” Blahnik explained, when asked why he didn’t just try to get the gun away from Bagley.

“Right then is when I ended up stepping forward, and muscle memory, and I just attacked him at that point in time,” Blahnik said.

“I remember stabbing him in the, like in the side and then stabbing him in the neck,” Blahnik added.

Blahnik said his military training taught him to go for the neck or for organs.

“I was trying to inflict the most pain as possible in a little amount of time,” he said.

In the process of stabbing Bagley, Blahnik admitted to accidentally stabbing Wagner in the hand. He said Wagner was still holding Bagley at the time.

He claims the entire incident happened in a matter of seconds.

“I wasn’t thinking at that time that was just muscle memory kicking in,” Blahnik said.

After Bagley was dead on the floor Blahnik said he started pacing in the back room of the trailer.

“I had my concealed weapon permit so that’s when I was like okay we need to call the cops right now and then that’s when Paul Hoff pointed the gun at me from a crouched position,” he said.

Blahnik claims Hoff threatened him not to call the police because of the drugs he had at his trailer. He said Hoff then ordered Wagner to move his pickup track around back while Hoff covered Bagley’s body with a floral bedsheet and plastic.

“Even after he threw him on that and was dragging him back I was like hey it’s not too late we can still call the cops,” Blahnik told the grand jury.

“It was more Paul Hoff running the show at that point in time because I didn’t know what he was going to do with the gun,” he added.

Blahnik said Hoff handed Bagley’s body over to Wagner through a window and the body was put in the back of Wagner’s truck.

“Paul Hoff told Drew Wagner to drive,” Blahnik claimed.

He said he was told to get into the back seat of the truck and they went to Wagner’s house on Soutter Avenue. Blahnik said once they got to Wagner’s house, the pickup truck was left in the driveway with Bagley’s body still in the truck bed covered by plywood. At that point, he said Wagner drove him back to his Marion apartment in a separate vehicle and he isn’t sure where Paul Hoff went.

In the days that followed, Blahnik said Hoff would drive by his loft and he felt threatened so he continued to keep quiet.

“At that point in time I was pretty much just scared of the situation and what Paul Hoff would do,” Blahnik explained.

“My sort of lifestyle isn’t to go killing people in cold blood and not reporting it to authorities. That’s not me. That’s never been the way I’ve acted my entire life, I have better morals than that,” Blahnik urged the grand jury.

He was asked why he continued to stab Bagley after he had already stabbed him in the neck which presumably would kill him.

“I’ve been in combat you know in many combat missions where I’ve shot someone 3 times and they didn’t go down you know,” Blahnik said.

The grand jury questioned details in Blahnik’s testimony that did not match up with what he told investigators in February.

“I mixed up the details,” Blahnik said. He assured them that his testimony was accurate.

In his initial interview with investigators, Blahnik denied having anything to do with Bagley’s disappearance for more than four hours before he admitted he was behind the stabbing.

After the transcript was read, the state rested its case. The trial will continue on Monday morning with Blahnik’s defense team calling their first witness.

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