Man Previously Convicted of Second-Degree Murder in State Court Sentenced to Federal Prison for Unlawful Gun Possession
A man who was previously convicted of second-degree murder in state court and who violently assaulted another inmate in the Linn County jail was sentenced today to five years in federal prison.
Johnny Blahnik Church, f/k/a Drew Blahnik, age 35, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, received the prison term after a June 6, 2022 guilty plea to being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm and ammunition.
At the plea hearing, Church admitted that, in February 2019, he possessed a Glock .40 caliber handgun and multiple rounds of .40 caliber ammunition. Church also admitted that at the time he possessed this gun and ammunition, he was prohibited from doing so because he was a knowing user of both cocaine and methamphetamine.
In July 2021, Church, then known as Drew Blahnik, was convicted after a trial in the Iowa District Court for Linn County of second-degree murder, obstruction of justice, and abuse of a corpse related to the December 2018 death of Chris Bagley. In December 2021, Church was sentenced to 57 years in Iowa state prison as a result of these convictions.
Evidence at sentencing showed that, in May 2022, while confined in the Linn County Jail awaiting trial on his federal gun charge, Church, along with another inmate, assaulted a third inmate. The assault, which lasted for several minutes, included Church and the other inmate assaulting the victim by punching him, kicking him, and hitting him with a metal tray, causing multiple serious injuries. Church has been charged with assault causing serious injury and tampering with a witness in the Iowa District Court for Linn County. As with any criminal case, a charge is merely an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Church was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams. Church was sentenced to 60 months’ imprisonment. He must also serve a three-year term of supervised release after the prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Anthony Morfitt and was investigated by the Linn County Sheriff’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN). PSN is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime
Court file information at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl.
The case file number is 19-CR-30.
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