The novel coronavirus may yet derail the high-profile jury trial for a father accused of killing his 13-year-old son near Durango in 2012, even though the judge presiding over the case confirmed Monday he does not have the virus as he had feared last week.
Sixth Judicial Chief Judge Jeffrey Wilson stopped jury selection for Mark Redwine’s trial last week after the judge woke up with mild COVID-19 symptoms, but he said in court Monday that he’s confirmed with two tests that he does not have the virus.
However, members of Redwine’s defense team began showing COVID-19 symptoms on Thursday, public defender Justin Bogan said during Monday’s hearing. He asked Wilson to declare a mistrial, even though the defense attorneys are still awaiting test results to see whether they have contracted the coronavirus.
One person on the defense team had a test that came back negative, Bogan said, but he said in order to follow public health guidelines, everyone on the team who may have been exposed needs to quarantine for 10 to 14 days or until testing confirms all are negative, which Bogan argued meant the trial could not go forward.
Redwine is accused of killing his son, Dylan Redwine, shortly after Dylan arrived at his father’s home for a court-ordered visit over the Thanksgiving holiday in 2012. Redwine is charged with second-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death. Dylan’s remains were not found until 2013 and 2015.
Dylan Redwine’s family members opposed a mistrial, speaking in court Monday about how difficult it is for the family that the case is still pending three years after Mark Redwine’s arrest and eight years after Dylan disappeared.
“It seems like the courtroom in this case just kind of stands still,” said Cory Redwine, Dylan’s brother. “We’ve all exhausted our energy, our time to be down here.”
Sixth Judicial District Attorney Christian Champagne also opposed a mistrial, emphasizing that jury selection was well underway and saying he believed there was still a “path forward.”
Several judicial districts have suspended jury trials until 2021 because of the resurgence in coronavirus cases, including courts in Denver, Boulder, Jefferson, Gilpin, Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties. The Redwine trial has been going forward in person with a variety of health precautions and limited in-courtroom attendance. Monday’s hearing was held by telephone after the court couldn’t get its online video streaming service, Webex, working.
Champagne also suggested in court that the defense attorneys might be exaggerating or fabricating the team’s COVID-19 symptoms in order to delay the trial. Champagne said that he was told one public defender, John Moran, was seen over the weekend cleaning out a car with another person, both unmasked.
“If one of the defense teams claims symptoms of COVID-19… but is not following quarantine requirements, that certainly undercuts their position,” Champagne said.
Asked by Wilson to respond to Champagne’s statements, Moran sputtered.
“Respond to what was happening in front of my house?” he asked. “I’m not sure how to respond to whether or not I was wearing a mask in my yard.”
Wilson said he would consider the positions of both sides and issue a written ruling on the mistrial request Monday afternoon. He told Dylan Redwine’s family that he understands why they want the trial to go forward.
“I know this is affecting your lives, I know your lives have been on hold since 2012,” Wilson said. “I can’t imagine the pain of losing a brother or son.”
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