The long-awaited trial for Mark Redwine, a Vallecito man accused of killing his 13-year-old son, Dylan, in 2012, begins Thursday.
The homicide trial is perhaps the most high-profile case in Southwest Colorado in years, which caught international media attention shortly after Dylan went missing in November 2012.
Dylan’s remains were found in a mountainous area in 2013, about 10 miles from his father’s home. Redwine was arrested in July 2017, and has been detained at the La Plata County Jail ever since awaiting his trial.
After years of delays and postponements, Redwine will have his day in court starting Thursday, in what’s expected to be a seven-week trial.
Jury selection starts Thursday. Because the case has been highly publicized, and the need to select a jury that is, for the most part, unfamiliar with the details of the alleged crime, a jury pool of 2,625 people has been summoned.
Redwine’s public defenders, Justin Bogan and John Moran, had previously attempted to hold the trial outside La Plata County, a request that was denied by District Judge Jeffrey Wilson.
It’s expected to take about eight days to select 12 jurors plus alternates.
Opening statements should begin Nov. 9, followed by weeks of testimony from friends and family, as well as expert witnesses and police. It won’t be known if Redwine will take the stand until weeks into the trial.
At a brief court hearing Tuesday, prosecutors with the 6th Judicial District Attorney’s Office and Redwine’s public defenders worked out the final kinks of holding the trial, complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wilson, who is overseeing the trial, ran through the final safety protocols of how people will move and stand in the court while trying to maintain social distancing, and how many people will be allowed in.
Redwine’s defense attorneys, for the third time, moved to postpone the trial, arguing that COVID-19 cases are on the rise in La Plata County and it won’t be possible to hold a safe trial.
Wilson disagreed, saying health protocol put in place will ensure a safe trial.
“The situation we have ... I think is sufficient and I’m not going to declare a mistrial,” Wilson said.
District Attorney Christian Champagne, who obtained a grand jury indictment against Redwine about a year after he was elected to the position in 2016, will be the top prosecutor on the case.
“We’re ready for trial,” Champagne told the court Tuesday.
For years, prosecutors have maintained Redwine’s motive stems from a contentious relationship with his son, who allegedly did not want to visit his father during a court-ordered visit over the Thanksgiving weekend.
It’s believed Dylan also confronted Redwine with “compromising photos” of his father, which caused Redwine to become upset, according to court filings. It’s been unclear what the content and nature of the photographs are.
“Dylan cannot speak for himself, but he made it clear to many people that he did not want to visit the defendant and that there was significant tension in his relationship with his father,” Champagne wrote in previous court filings.
Dylan was last seen alive Nov. 18, 2012, when he arrived at the airport for the court-ordered visit. Redwine in 2007 had divorced his ex-wife, Elaine Hall, who had moved the family to Colorado Springs.
After Dylan’s arrival, the father and son stopped at Walmart and McDonald’s in Durango, and then went to Redwine’s home on County Road 500, just north of Vallecito Reservoir, about 25 miles northeast of Durango.
Dylan’s last phone activity or communication was at 9:37 p.m. Nov. 18, 2012. The next morning, Dylan’s friend sent a text message at 6:46 a.m. asking, “where are you,” and received no response.
Redwine, for his part, said he left early on the morning of Nov. 19 to run errands in Durango and when he returned Dylan wasn’t there. At first, Redwine said he didn’t think much of it, and assumed Dylan went to visit friends.
That afternoon, Redwine called the Bayfield Marshal’s Office to ask if anyone in the office had seen Dylan, but he did not officially report his son missing. That happened after Mark Redwine contacted Hall to see if she had heard from Dylan.
Hall reported her son missing to the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office at 5:30 p.m., kicking off what would become a massive, yearslong effort that included countless search parties to find any trace of Dylan.
The disappearance and subsequent investigation of Dylan’s whereabouts included a two-part, drama-filled “Dr. Phil” show that aired in May 2013 that featured Hall alleging Redwine had some part in Dylan’s vanishing.
In June 2013, some of Dylan’s remains were found about 8 miles up Middle Mountain Road, a dirt road that cuts through the San Juan National Forest, about 100 yards from the road, directly off an ATV trail.
Hikers then found the boy’s skull in November 2015, about a mile and half from where his remains were first found.
Dylan’s death had been ruled a homicide in 2015, yet for the next two years, no arrests were made in connection to his disappearance.
In July 2017, however, Redwine was arrested while working as a truck driver in Washington state, and charged on suspicion of second-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death.
Prosecutors are hinging their case partly on evidence suggesting Dylan’s blood was found in Redwine’s living room, washing machine, the bed of his pickup and on the clothes Redwine reportedly wore the night Dylan went missing.
Dylan’s skull, also, had injuries that indicated blunt-force trauma in two locations.
Redwine, for years, has maintained his innocence and pleaded not guilty in June 2018.
Hall, in an interview with The Durango Herald earlier this month, said she supports the trial going forward.
“Dylan has been gone for eight years, and we have been at a standstill since then,” she said. “I am relieved that the trial will finally proceed so maybe I can put my son in his final resting place.”