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Redwine lawyers seek info about background checks performed on potential jurors

Sheriff’s Office ran searches on more than 1,000 residents reporting for jury duty
Mark Redwine exits the 6th Judicial District courtroom June 29, 2017, after an arraignment hearing. Mark Redwine’s defense team wants to see all correspondences about the creation of an extensive background check on more than 1,000 potential jurors.

Mark Redwine’s defense lawyers want to know how and why a massive background check performed on potential jurors was created in the days leading up to the trial for the Vallecito man accused of killing his 13-year-old son, Dylan, in 2012.

On Friday, it came to light that the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office created a document with background checks on more than 1,000 potential jurors and provided it to 6th Judicial District Attorney’s Office prosecutors.

It remains unclear when the Sheriff’s Office provided the document to prosecutors. District Attorney Christian Champagne has maintained he turned over the document to the defense as soon as he received it from the Sheriff’s Office.

Redwine’s public defender, John Moran, said at a brief hearing Wednesday he was provided the background checks late Oct. 29, and he wasn’t able review them until the next day, which he says gave prosecutors a two-day advantage with the information.

Redwine’s trial began Oct. 29 with jury selection, a process that is expected to take more than a week to sift through 2,625 potential jurors who were summoned to serve on the 12-person jury with two alternates in the highly publicized case.

“It would have been useful to have this information,” Moran said.

Moran also took issue with the private nature of some of the information included in the background checks.

Moran in a file photo from 2017
Champagne in a file photo from 2017.

The document, Moran said, includes information on people if they were victims of child abuse, domestic violence or sexual assault. The data also indicate whether potential jurors are known to be suicidal, are the parents of runaway children or went through contentious divorces, among other issues.

Champagne has maintained his office did not request the background checks, and says the Sheriff’s Office created the document on its own accord. The Sheriff’s Office has previously declined to comment about the situation, saying it did not want to interfere with the trial process.

On Wednesday, Moran requested to see all correspondences between the District Attorney’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office, as well as the La Plata County Attorney’s Office, concerning the background checks.

Moran contends the background checks could potentially prejudice Redwine, as well as potential jurors.

District Judge Jeffery Wilson, overseeing the case, granted Moran’s request for the correspondences.

Wilson, however, maintained the matter at hand is not a real issue.

“This is not something that’s going to affect the outcome of this trial,” Wilson said. “I do not see ... that you’re prejudiced by anything that’s gone on here.”

Mark Thomas with the La Plata County Attorney’s Office said he has no objection to releasing the “basic information,” but that he was concerned some of the defense’s request included private information.

Champagne did not speak during Wednesday’s hearing about the matter.

In last week’s hearing, Champagne accused Moran of making “wild and reckless” accusations of illegal and improper government conduct in an effort to “prejudice this community,” when in fact nothing nefarious had taken place.

“To cast such an aspersion, I think it’s unethical, I think Mr. Moran should be personally sanctioned,” Champagne said.

Moran brought up Champagne’s charge of acting unethically at Wednesday’s court hearing, but Wilson wanted no part of it.

“What you do outside of this case is not my concern,” Wilson told Moran. “Take issue with it in the correct form.”

Dylan Redwine

Jury selection was not livestreamed earlier this week for individual “voir dire,” where lawyers question potential jurors one-on-one.

Redwine was arrested in July 2017 after authorities accused him of killing Dylan in 2012 while the boy was on a court-ordered visit to his dad’s home in Vallecito over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Redwine faces two charges: second-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death. If convicted, Redwine faces up to 48 years in prison.

Redwine has maintained his innocence and pleaded not guilty.


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