$100K bail in Craig manslaughter case | CraigDailyPress.com

$100K bail in Craig manslaughter case

One punch took victim down, witness told police

Lauren Blair

— What began as a drunken argument between co-workers Wednesday night and early Thursday morning in Craig ended in death for one man and arrest on suspicion of manslaughter for another.

Witnesses report that it was a single punch that knocked out Raymond Terrill, according to the arrest affidavit for Justin Blodgett, the man who allegedly threw the punch.

As Terrill lay unconscious in the alleyway intersection behind Trav-O-Tel Motel shortly after 2:30 a.m. Thursday, his co-workers tried to revive him by splashing water in his face, the affidavit said. Shortly thereafter, his breathing and heartbeat stopped.

Terrill, 36, of Ozark, Missouri, was pronounced dead at The Memorial Hospital after Craig police officers and TMH staff were unable to revive him. The cause of death has not yet been determined. Moffat County Coroner Kirk McKey is expecting preliminary results from an autopsy by Monday.

Terrill, who lived in Craig in 2013, according to Facebook, leaves behind a wife and several young children.

Blodgett, 26, of Grand Junction, was taken in for questioning following the incident and is being held at the Moffat County Jail on suspicion of manslaughter. He appeared before Judge Sandra Gardner via teleconference Friday, who set his bond at $100,000, cash or surety.

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Gardner expressed concern and a desire to know whether Blodgett would continue to be employed in Craig, where he’d been working for seven months, or whether he would return home to Grand Junction, where he has a wife and three young children.

The 14th Judicial District Attorney's office, represented by Deputy DA Charlie Dow, requested bond be set at $25,000 cash and surety or $35,000 cash only.

"We base this request off the severity of charges and the penalty should he become guilty of the charges, as well as the defendant's criminal history," Dow said.

As a teenager, Blodgett was arrested multiple times in Mesa County on assault charges, according to the Mesa County Sheriff's Office. In 2010, at age 19, he was arrested for allegedly stabbing a man in the leg who refused to give him the shirt he was wearing.

Colorado State Public Defender Abby Kurtz-Phelan represented Blodgett and requested his bond be set at $10,000, which she said is typical for a class 4 felony charge such as manslaughter.

"He was very young when that happened and now has a wife, children and a home. He's older now. I don't think these past incidents necessarily demonstrate who he is now," Kurtz-Phelan said.

"I think it's clear that Mr. Blodgett was not trying to flee. He was trying to assist, he was cooperative with police and, based on witness's statements, it sounds accidental. So while yes, it's a serious offense, I think the court can take those facts into consideration when setting a reasonable bond for Mr. Blodgett," she told the judge.

Blodgett's next court appearance was set for Tuesday, at which time the DA will present formal charges.

The men were co-workers, both electricians for a subcontractor working on the outage at Craig Station. Terrill was a journeyman and Blodgett was his new apprentice, according to the affidavit.

They went out for dinner to Carelli's Wednesday night with four other men, and then to Mathers Bar and the Popular Bar, according to witness accounts.

Around 12:30 a.m., "at the Popular Bar, the police were called because Ray was trying to fight someone who was in the bar, but not one of their group," according to one witness account in the affidavit. The men were asked to leave.

The group walked back to Trav-O-Tel Motel, where several of the men were staying, and continued to drink in one of their rooms. Terrill was belligerent, extremely intoxicated — appearing “blacked-out drunk” — and picking on Blodgett, according to the witness.

The two men went outside to fight, despite the witness's efforts to stop Terrill, who he said "was unstable on his feet and fell down several times." The men each threw one punch and Terrill fell.

"Ray was upset, but (the witness) stated he was just emotional and drunk and talked about missing his wife and children and how he didn't want to be in Craig away from his family," the affidavit said.

Back on his feet, Terrill started getting belligerent again and backed Blodgett up towards a fence, where Blodgett responded by punching Terrill once in the face, according to the witness account.

The punch knocked him unconscious and he fell to the ground. His breathing slowed.

When his breathing and heart stopped, the witness began chest compressions and Blodgett gave him several rescue breaths. They continued CPR until officers arrived, the affidavit said.

When officers informed him that Terrill had died and he was under arrest for manslaughter, "Justin was extremely emotional, but cooperative," the affidavit said.

The Craig Police Department is continuing to investigate the incident with assistance from Moffat County Sheriff's Office and the DA’s Office.

Contact Lauren Blair at 970-875-1795 or lblair@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @LaurenBNews.