Bond reduced to $10K for man accused of manslaughter in Craig | CraigDailyPress.com

Bond reduced to $10K for man accused of manslaughter in Craig

Lauren Blair

Justin Blodgett

— The public defender for the man accused of manslaughter after a fight in Craig last week painted a picture of a hard-working family man before the judge Tuesday, in contrast to the picture painted by his criminal record as a youth.

In light of Tuesday's hearing, Moffat County Judge Sandra Gardner reduced Justin Blodgett's bond from $100,000 to $10,000 cash or surety despite objection from the 14th Judicial District Attorney's office.

Blodgett, 26, of Grand Junction, was arrested early Thursday morning following an altercation with his co-worker, Raymond Terrill, that ended in Terrill's death.

Blodgett and Terrill had been drinking, and Blodgett threw a single punch that knocked out Terrill, according to witness accounts, eventually leading to his death. The men were contract electricians at Craig Station.

Looking contrite with hands folded between his knees, Blodgett appeared via video conference from Moffat County Jail, where he had not yet posted bail. Blodgett's wife, mother and brother, all from Grand Junction, were present in the courtroom to show support to their loved one.

"He and his family have significant ties to Colorado," State Public Defender Abby Kurtz-Phelan told Gardner, arguing that his flight risk was low and therefore deserving of a reduced bond.

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Blodgett lives with his wife and three children in Grand Junction, where he grew up and is in close contact with both immediate and extended family, Kurtz-Phelan said.

Gardner was concerned in Friday's bond hearing about Blodgett's employment plans, and Kurtz-Phelan reported Tuesday that two of his former employers in Mesa County would welcome him back.

"If Justin got out of jail today he would put him to work tomorrow," Blodgett's former manager said, according to Kurtz-Phelan. "He spoke extremely highly of Mr. Blodgett."

Kurtz-Phelan also relayed that a colleague had spoken with Terrill's wife, who reportedly wished for Blodgett to be home with his wife and children.

Blodgett was convicted on multiple assault charges in 2009 and 2010 in Mesa County, at ages 18 and 19, but completed four years of stringent requirements to avoid prison time, Kurtz-Phelan said.

As bond conditions, Gardner required Blodgett to abstain from alcohol consumption and undergo random alcohol tests and extensive pretrial monitoring at his own expense.

"The court would note in reviewing the arrest affidavit, that (among those involved in the incident), there was a common factor at play, and that was excessive consumption of alcohol," Gardner said.

The DA formally filed one count of manslaughter against Blodgett Tuesday, a class 4 felony, with a presumptive penalty of two to six years in prison, or one to 12 years under exceptional circumstances, Gardner said.

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