Judge in Michael Blagg trial restricts coverage

The Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction): The judge overseeing Michael Blagg’s second murder trial has ordered strict constraints on public access following an argument from defense attorneys that having cameras in the courtroom would make it difficult to keep jurors from being exposed to the years’ worth of media coverage in his case.

First Judicial District Judge Tamara S. Russell on Feb. 14 denied requests from two media outlets to record video and audio of the trial for Blagg, who is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the 2001 killing of his wife, Jennifer.

Blagg, whose trial is expected to begin today with jury selection, has been in Mesa County’s public eye since 2001, when he reported his wife and 6-year-old daughter, Abby, missing from the family’s Redlands home. He was convicted of Jennifer’s murder in 2004 by a Mesa County jury. Blagg’s conviction was reversed in 2014, however, when a judge granted him a new trial after juror misconduct came to light.

Blagg’s new trial was transferred to Jefferson County after defense attorneys argued he would not receive a fair retrial in Mesa County.

Earlier this year, Grand Junction NBC affiliate KKCO 11 News and the program “Dateline NBC” each filed requests for “expanded media coverage” — permission to film, record and photograph Blagg’s new trial.

Mesa County Chief Deputy District Attorney Trish Mahre supported the request on Feb. 4.

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