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Forensic pathologist says Dylan Redwine suffered blunt force trauma

‘The manner of death, in my opinion, is clearly homicide,’ expert witness says
Robert Kurtzman, a forensic pathologist, points out a fracture he found on the skull of Dylan Redwine. Kurtzman’s testimony came on Wednesday, the 12th day of a jury trial for Mark Redwine, who is charged with second-degree murder and child abuse resulting in the death of his son, Dylan Redwine. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

A forensic pathologist told jurors Wednesday that Dylan Redwine’s manner of death was a homicide as the long-awaited Mark Redwine trial extends into its third week.

Robert Kurtzman explained that he evaluated Dylan’s first remains discovered in June 2013, and was called back to the case in November 2017 to examine the boy’s cranium discovered by off-trail hikers in 2015. He agreed with Diane France, a forensic anthropologist who testified earlier in the trial, that the cranium found had evidence of blunt force trauma.

Blood detection in the Redwine home, blueprints of the house, the father’s truck and items found near Dylan’s remains were assessed by Kurtzman.

“With regard to the circumstances leading up to the report of a missing 13-year-old and my interpretation of the findings that I saw from my direct examination, the conclusion that I had was the manner of death is homicide,” he said.

Robert Kurtzman, a forensic pathologist, testifies Wednesday during the trial for Mark Redwine. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Blood found on the floor of the Redwine home underneath a rug suggested concealment, as well, Kurtzman testified.

Redwine is charged with second-degree murder and child abuse resulting in the death of his son, Dylan.

Kurtzman explained the difference between manner and cause of death to the jury. The manner of death indicates the circumstances surrounding the death, like if the death was caused by natural causes or an accident. Cause of death is the specific injury or disease that caused death, like a heart attack.

Because there were no organs or soft tissue available to evaluate, Kurtzman said the cause of death cannot be determined.

“The manner of death, in my opinion, is clearly homicide,” Kurtzman said. “The cause of death, I'll never know.”

The head injury alone may not have caused Dylan’s death, he said. Not all head injuries cause bleeding, Kurtzman added.

“There’s lots of head injuries that do bleed a lot, but there are closed-head injuries that an individual sustains,” Kurtzman said, “and when a person sustains a closed-head injury there may not be any defect whatsoever on the scalp or on the head.”

Robert Kurtzman, a forensic pathologist, testifies Wednesday during the trial for Mark Redwine. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Marks were also found on Dylan’s remains and skull, which have been deemed a result of scavenging, which is when animals consume already-killed remains.

Kurtzman found evidence of injuries caused by a sharp tool on the zygomatic arch on the skull, which forms the cheek area, which also aligned with France’s evaluation.

The marks would not happen if the body was out in nature for an extended period of time, Kurtzman said.

“It’s not natural, in any way, to have skeletonized remains with cut marks in an open environment,” he said. “It doesn't happen in nature, bears don’t carry knives.”

Earlier in the day, detective Tom Cowing with the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office testified about his interactions with Redwine in the months after Dylan’s disappearance.

Of note, the investigator said Redwine could not be reached by phone or email leading up to an extensive search for the boy in June 2013.

In December 2012, Mark Redwine spoke about Dylan Redwine from his front door. “All we want for Christmas is Dylan home,” he said at the time. (Durango Herald file)

Prosecutors hope to use such evidence to show Redwine was disengaged and acting unusually after his son’s disappearance.

Cowing said he called by phone, left voicemails and emailed Redwine as the snow melted and an expansive search for Dylan became plausible in the mountainous region northeast of Vallecito Reservoir.

Redwine answered his phone on June 21, 2013, one day before the planned search. Redwine reportedly told law enforcement he broke his phone by dropping it in a sink, and that was the reason he had been out of communication, Cowing testified.

The testimony reflects prosecutors’ effort to show a pattern of passivity on the part of Redwine with respect to the search for Dylan. Earlier accounts, as relayed by family and law enforcement, include Redwine’s unwillingness to participate in searches; ceasing efforts to call or text Dylan the first night of his disappearance; and a general attitude of being “laid-back,” different from how other family members act when dealing with a missing child.

Redwine was out of state for work at the time of Cowing’s call. Cory Redwine, Dylan’s brother, and Elaine Hall, their mother, were active in the search for Dylan in June, Cowing told jurors.

Dylan’s possessions and remains were discovered June 25, 2013, in a rugged area northwest of Redwine’s home near Vallecito Reservoir, Cowing said. Cowing then called Redwine and told him “items of interest” were found and advised him to return home, Cowing testified.

It took Redwine two days to return to the Vallecito area northeast of Durango, where Cowing informed Redwine his son’s remains were identified.

“He started to weep,” Cowing said.

Between June 21 and June 25, 2013, Redwine did not contact Cowing for updates about the search for Dylan, Cowing told jurors.

After Dylan’s first remains were found in June, a long-sought fishing pole was discovered by Redwine in his own garage in July 2013. When Dylan first disappeared in November 2013, his father told police Dylan may have gone fishing – a frequent hobby of his.

Redwine told Cowing he found the pole behind a washing machine after he moved an ATV in the garage. Law enforcement had searched for the fishing pole since Dylan’s disappearance more than a year earlier, and Redwine had been asked repeatedly to look for the fishing pole.

Kaela Roeder is an intern for The Durango Herald and The Journal in Cortez and a 2021 graduate of American University in Washington, D.C.

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