Potential jurors started filtering in Thursday morning for the trial of Mark Redwine, who is accused of killing his 13-year-old son, Dylan, in 2012.
Because the case has been so highly publicized over the years, and because of the need to have a jury that, for the most part, is unfamiliar with the details of the case, a total of 2,625 people have been summoned.
Starting Thursday, through Nov. 6, jury pools will come in three waves throughout the day at 8 a.m., 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
A total of 19 potential jurors were in the courtroom for the 8 a.m. Thursday wave – social distanced and wearing face coverings because of COVID-19 protocols.
“We are living in different times,” said District Judge Jeffery Wilson, who is overseeing the trial. “We’ve taken every safety precaution to ensure your safety. ... It’s as safe as we can make it.”
In recent weeks, Redwine’s public defenders – Justin Bogan and John Moran – have attempted three times to delay Redwine’s trial, arguing it’s too dangerous during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wilson, repeatedly, has disagreed.
“This is a trial I’ve decided can’t wait until sometime in the future when the COVID-19 pandemic is gone,” Wilson told the potential jury pool. “The trial needs to occur.”
Redwine was arrested in July 2017 for allegedly killing his son, but various delays and postponements have kept Redwine awaiting trial in the La Plata County Jail.
Redwine’s trial is expected to last until Dec. 11, Wilson said, a huge time investment for potential jurors. Thursday’s jury selection was the first of several rounds of questioning to weed out people who don’t qualify or can’t serve.
Right off the bat, five people were excused because they could not serve that much time, mostly for work-related reasons. Another person was excused after he said personal health reasons were a concern amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the end of the brief hearing, potential jurors were handed a list of witnesses to look over to see if they had any relationship with people on the list. The jury pool will be called back at a later time.
In the meantime, people should act like they are on the jury, Wilson said, by not reading or watching anything about the case in the media, or talking about the trial with anyone, including other potential jurors.
Though a total of 2,625 people have been summoned to the Redwine trial (which is about 6% of La Plata County’s total eligible jury pool), only about 40% to 60% actually show up to court, said Eric Hogue, court administrator.
“Usually, hovering on the lower side of that range,” he said.
Another factor that is likely to exclude a number of potential jurors is the fact the case has garnered significant attention from media outlets and social media platforms over the years, including a two-part, drama-filled “Dr. Phil” show.
“This case has been highly publicized over the years and many people (have an opinion about it),” Wilson said.
Redwine’s public defenders had previously attempted to move the trial outside La Plata County, a request Wilson denied.
Redwine faces two charges: second-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death. If convicted, Redwine faces up to 48 years in prison.
Redwine, for his part, has maintained his innocence and pleaded not guilty.
Redwine is accused of killing Dylan in November 2012 while his son was on a court ordered visit for Thanksgiving. The day after Dylan arrived, he was never heard from and vanished without a trace.
It wasn’t until June 2013 that some of his remains were found in a mountainous area about 10 miles from Redwine’s home. After years of investigations, prosecutors say Redwine killed his son, resulting in his arrest in 2017.