The trial of Mark Redwine, a Vallecito man accused of killing his 13-year-old son, Dylan, in 2012, has been reset to begin May 26 as the COVID-19 pandemic surges through Colorado and the rest of the country.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys each said Thursday they’re ready to begin trial, which was scheduled to start April 2, but 6th Judicial District Chief Judge Jeffery Wilson ordered the trial reset to avoid unsettling prospective jurors or facilitating the spread of the coronavirus causing COVID-19.
The court plans to summon hundreds of people as potential jurors.
“The court is concerned about public health,” Wilson said. “The community is severely concerned about COVID-19.”
The judge recognized a shelter-in-place order in San Miguel County, about an hour and a half drive from Durango, that is scheduled to continue through at least April 3.
Public defense attorney Justin Bogan, in his argument to reset Redwine’s trial, said selecting a 12-person jury with three alternates would violate state orders from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment barring gatherings of more than 10 people.
“If any one of the jurors is symptomatic, all of the jury would have to quarantine for 14 days,” Bogan said. Any problems with a jury could lead to the case ending in a mistrial almost three years after it started.
And even if the court could ensure social distancing, people summoned for jury duty may be upset about being gathered with others when public health and government officials specifically ordered against it.
Since Redwine is “one of the most loathed individuals in the community,” Bogan said jurors’ anger about being summoned to jury duty during a pandemic could be directed toward his client.
District Attorney Christian Champagne told Judge Wilson, “We’re ready to go” with the trial; Bogan said, “For us, sooner is better.” But starting the trial on May 26 could be ambitious, with projections that the spread of COVID-19 could last months, Wilson said.
“I can see this date being a problem,” he said.