By Patty Nieberg, The Associated Press/Report for America
Colorado man killed his son almost a decade ago, after the 13-year-old boy learned things about his father that ultimately ruined their relationship, prosecutors told a jury in closing arguments Thursday.
Mark Redwine, 59, is on trial on charges of second-degree murder and child abuse resulting in the death of Dylan Redwine. The boy was reported missing on Nov. 19, 2012, while on a court-ordered Thanksgiving visit to his home outside the small southwestern city of Durango.
“The defendant’s words and his deeds had pushed this loving boy to the 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,” District Attorney Michael Dougherty told jurors.
Dylan Redwine’s remains were found a few miles from his father’s home in 2013, and his skull was found nearly three years later.
Mark Redwine told investigators that his son was asleep when he woke up that morning, and that he returned from errands to find him gone. His defense team has suggested the boy was killed by a wild animal.
Earlier in the trial, prosecutors revealed a compromising photo of Mark Redwine in women’s lingerie while eating what appeared to be feces from a diaper. After Dylan’s older brother Cory Redwine testified in court that the siblings discovered the photos on their father’s computer, the prosecution argued that the discovery led to a slow decline in the way Dylan saw his father and their closeness.
“Dylan was no longer simply an adoring young boy who just wanted to be with his parents. He came to recognize that his parents were people and he came to recognize the person that the defendant was in his life,” Dougherty said.
Public defender Justin Bogan pressed the jury to consider any reasonable doubt arising from the prosecution’s speculation on the motive as well as the lack of DNA evidence, weapon and cause of death.
“The government, the prosecutors, the La Plata county sheriff’s department, FBI, Colorado Bureau of Investigations, National Forest Service cannot tell you after nine years what happened because they don’t know,” Bogan said. “If they don’t know, you don’t know.”
Dougherty repeatedly called the case “simple and tragic” and said that Redwine’s behavior was consistent with second-degree murder because he “knowingly killed Dylan” with “injuries not just one place, but two places.”
The defense argued that expert testimony earlier in the trial showed Dylan’s skull was still in a peri-mortem state in 2015. He said that means it retained elasticity and wetness, making it susceptible to environmental factors like animal scavenging for three years before it was discovered.
Bogan called the investigation “biased” and “sloppy” because of evidence destruction by an expert who broke off a piece of Dylan’s skull during their examination and a scientist who revealed in court that the prosecution gave police reports to them before their testimony. Bogan also said investigators were selective with the evidence collected and called Redwine a “target” because cameras and GPS were set up to watch Redwine.
The prosecution emphasized that Dylan’s lack of text messages and social media activity on the morning of Nov. 19, 2012, show Redwine’s attempts to cover up the murder with stories contrary to Dylan’s usual behavior and plans for the day. Redwine said he agreed to drive Dylan to his friend’s house when he returned home from errands around 11 a.m. despite text messages that show his son planned to go to his friend’s house at 6:30 a.m.
If Dylan were alive that morning “like this guy wants you to believe,” he would have been in touch with his friend, responded to his mother’s texts and showed activity on Facebook, Dougherty said.
“Instead, Dylan was never heard from again,” he said.
Meanwhile, the defense said that Redwine, “the guy working in the oil field,” didn’t have enough time or knowledge to dismember a body, clean up effectively to evade a luminol test for blood and appear fine at work the next day.
Redwine was arrested after a grand jury indicted him in July 2017. He faces up to 48 years in prison if he is convicted.