Mark Redwine’s defense attorneys tried once again on Thursday to delay the Vallecito man’s upcoming trial – to no avail.
Redwine, who is accused of killing his 13-year-old son, Dylan, in 2012, is on track to start a 30-day trial on Oct. 29 after countless delays and postponements that have resulted in the 59-year-old man sitting in jail for three years.
Recently, Redwine’s defense attorneys requested to delay the trial until “after the COVID-19 pandemic has been resolved,” arguing the pandemic presents “unreasonable” public health risks that would prevent a fair trial.
Prosecutors for the 6th Judicial District Attorney’s Office have objected to any further delays and said they are ready for trial.
Sixth Judicial District Judge Jeffery Wilson, however, ultimately ruled the regulations in place do not violate any constitutional rights, determining Redwine will still stand trial Oct. 29.
At a pretrial conference hearing Thursday, John Moran, Redwine’s appointed public defender, argued again that a trial would put the health of attorneys, the jury, witnesses and the community at risk.
Many witnesses will be traveling to La Plata County from COVID-19 hot spots, Moran said, which may spread the virus throughout the community and “put all of our lives at risk.”
“It’s a very dangerous situation,” Moran said. “This is a real health risk and danger to every one of us.”
Moran also reiterated concerns that local media coverage of the Redwine case has tainted the jury pool in La Plata County. Attempts to move the trial in the past have failed, with Wilson saying it’s an issue that can be worked around.
Wilson maintained Thursday the trial will go on as planned.
“Mr. Redwine has been in jail for three years, and Dylan’s been gone longer than that,” Wilson said. “There needs to be resolution on this case.”
Wilson said neither situation is “palatable” – because of the pandemic, there is a concern about losing witnesses and evidence, but there is also concern about Redwine “rotting in jail” until the pandemic is over.
Dylan’s mother, Elaine Hall, told The Durango Herald on Thursday she is supportive of 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.”
The trial is set to go on as planned, though many court procedures were tweaked to take into account best health practices surrounding social distancing, limiting group sizes and wearing face coverings.
Jury selection is expected to take longer than normal, over the course of about seven days. Potential jurors will be called in waves and will be held in different rooms as the selection process goes on in the courtroom.
It’s unclear how many people will be called for jury duty.
Another aspect discussed Thursday was about Redwine’s constitutional right to see the faces of the jury, and for the jury to see Redwine’s face, complicated by the fact people are required to wear face coverings at the courthouse.
Wilson gave Redwine the option to either waive his constitutional right and wear a face covering, or instead choose a plastic shield.
Wilson said he also retains the right to postpone the trial should COVID-19 conditions worsen in the community. Opening statements are expected to begin on Nov. 9, according to court documents.
Redwine has a status conference hearing set for Oct. 16.
Dylan, who lived with his mother in Colorado Springs, went to stay with his father on a court-ordered visit on Nov. 18, 2012. Dylan was reported missing the next day.
Despite a massive search effort, Dylan was not located until 2013 when his remains were found in a mountainous area, about 10 miles from Redwine’s Vallecito home.
Redwine was arrested July 22, 2017, and has been in custody at the La Plata County Jail ever since. Countless delays, which included one of his attorneys being arrested and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, have pushed back the trial.