Prosecutors asked jurors to rely on common sense and life experiences in convicting Mark Redwine of killing his 13-year-old son, while defense lawyers urged jurors to acquit the defendant based on reasonable doubt.
Dylan was “scared” to travel to Vallecito on a court-ordered visit to his father’s house in November 2012 because of rifts in the relationship and an unspoken frustration about sordid photos Dylan found showing his father in women's lingerie while eating what appeared to be feces from a diaper, Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty told jurors Thursday. A confrontation caused Redwine to kill his son, prosecutors say.
The defense argues there is not enough physical evidence to prove Redwine killed his son. Public defender Justin Bogan said Redwine didn’t have the time or knowledge of anatomy to dispose of his son and get to work in Durango early the next morning.
Jurors began deliberations about 3:30 p.m. Thursday. Before closing arguments, 6th Judicial District Chief Judge Jeffrey Wilson announced that a juror was excused from the case because of comments the person made about Redwine’s guilt. It was the second juror to be dismissed, but only 12 jurors were needed, and the trial started with 16 jurors, including four alternates.
Dylan Redwine was in the stages of breaking off his relationship with his father, something other family members had done, when Redwine killed him, Dougherty said.
“This relationship was severing,” he told jurors. “It was splicing and it was cutting and it was coming to an end because the defendant’s words and his deeds had pushed this loving young boy to a point where Dylan no longer wanted to have any contact with the defendant, and the only reason he had contact with the defendant was because the court ordered him to do so,” Dougherty said.
At its core, Dougherty said it is a simple and tragic case: Who was the last person seen with Dylan? Who was with Dylan the moment he sent his last text message?
“A damaged and deteriorating relationship that turns deadly on Nov. 18, 2012,” Dougherty told jurors. “And despite the defendant’s best efforts to avoid responsibility and accountability, we are here today, and justice is about to come.”
Dylan told friends and family he didn’t want to visit his father over the Thanksgiving break in Vallecito. But he was ordered to do so as part of a custody agreement. His mother, Elaine Hall, contacted her attorney in an attempt to get Dylan out of it.
“That relationship was coming to an end,” Dougherty said. “And for the defendant, this was incredibly frustrating.”
Mark Redwine, in a dark blue suit and a bright yellow shirt, listened attentively and stoically as both Dougherty and Bogan, delivered closing arguments.
Hall, watching in the spectators benches, wiped away tears as Dougherty finished his closing argument.
The prosecutor told jurors: “On Nov. 18, 2012, Elaine Hall experienced a parent’s worst nightmare. The worst nightmare a parent can have. When you send a text at 10:09 as Elaine did on the night of Nov. 18: ‘How’s it going son, you OK?’ She’s been waiting nine years for a response. She’s been waiting for nine years for a response because this guy killed her son,” he said as he pointed to Mark Redwine.
He added: “This is the response she gets now: No, your son is not OK. Mark Redwine killed him and should be held fully responsible, fully accountable.”
Dylan endured blunt force trauma and sharp force injuries to the head, Dougherty said. Redwine dumped the body in the rugged backcountry northeast of Vallecito Reservoir to cover his tracks, he said.
The boy’s skull was found about 5 miles from the dump site. Redwine likely wanted to further hide the skull because it showed the most evidence of foul play, Dougherty told jurors.
Dylan’s out-of-character halted use of social media and unanswered text messages beginning the night of Nov. 18 suggests the boy was killed that evening, Dougherty said.
“Because of what the defendant did, this world will never know Dylan Redwine beyond that day,” Dougherty said. “We'll never know the impact that he would have had on this world today, his high school years, college, a future family of his own. All those things were robbed.”
Defense attorneys recognized the strained relationship between Dylan and his father but told jurors that doesn’t add up to homicide. Dylan likely went on a walk early Nov. 19 and was attacked by a wild animal, Bogan said.
“You want your son in your life, you want a relationship with them,” Bogan said. “You don't kill them hours after they arrive to come to visit.”
Bogan pointed to the lack of hard evidence in the case. There are still several unknowns, and that shouldn’t be taken lightly, Bogan said.
There is no evidence of cleanup, no evidence of a physical fight and minuscule blood evidence at Redwine’s home, he said. Cadaver dogs signaling to the odor of human remains at the house is not reliable enough, either, Bogan said.
Before evidence was found, Bogan said investigators were “trying to catch” Redwine by setting up cameras, tracking his car and giving scientists police reports.
“We’ve got a biased perception of evidence here,” Bogan told jurors.
But Dougherty argued the case was investigated and mulled over for years.
“This is no rush to judgment,” Dougherty said.
Bogan said sordid pictures of Mark Redwine dressed in woman’s underwear eating feces out of a diaper were introduced to misdirect the jury. He told jurors the photos serve more to breed hatred toward the defendant rather than serving as a motive for the boy’s death, as prosecutors claim.
“The prosecution likes these pictures a lot more than they like the tangible and scientific evidence in this case,” Bogan told the jurors. “They like those pictures more than they like the fact that there’s uncontested damage by animals of the remains. The marks on the cranium are consistent with animal damage. They like those pictures better than the fact that the DNA evidence is contradictory and underwhelming.”
Bogan said jurors should view the pictures only for the sole purpose of determining whether they support the prosecution’s thesis of the case, not to unfairly taint Mark Redwine as a bad person.
“Do not get washed downstream by the photos,” he told jurors. “Do not get washed downstream. Say: ‘Well, a person who engaged in this sort of conduct is probably a freak, a freaky bad person. And because they are kind of a freaky bad person, they probably would be the sort of person to kill their youngest son if they fought for him, to get custody of him, after a really bad divorce for five years.’ You can’t do that. You look at them like: Does this motive make sense. Does it help me understand what they’re saying motive is?”
Redwine is charged with second-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death.
Dougherty described the difference between first-degree and second-degree murder. First-degree murder, he said, is when someone acts intentionally, like when a couple have an altercation and one waits for the other to come home and shoots that person with a handgun. Second-degree murder, he said, occurs when someone acts knowingly, like when a couple are arguing in the kitchen and one person becomes upset with the other and hits her on the head with a frying pan.
He asked jurors to recall testimony from Brandon Redwine, Mark’s son from a previous marriage, who said the day Dylan’s remains were found, Mark commented about how law enforcement won’t know whether blunt force trauma was involved without the skull. The statement was so out of left field that Brandon contacted law enforcement that day, Dougherty said.
The prosecution noted Redwine didn’t mourn as a typical father would. Redwine appeared laid back when Dylan vanished and threw away pictures of his son in August 2016. While Dylan was still missing, Redwine transferred the money in Dylan’s bank account to his personal account, Dougherty said.
“He got rid of everything that could tie Dylan to him, tie the body to him – except the debit card. The debit card could potentially have value for him,” Dougherty said.
Outside the courtroom, most family members declined to comment about the trial.
The only observation came from Cory Redwine, who said, “It’s been difficult to go through all this again.”
Herald Staff Writers Shane Benjamin and Patrick Armijo contributed to this report. 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.