Dylan Redwine did not want to visit his father over the 2012 Thanksgiving holiday but couldn’t avoid the court-ordered trip, his childhood friends testified Tuesday during the murder trial of Mark Redwine, who is accused of killing his 13-year-old son on the first night of his stay.
One by one on the first day of testimony, Dylan’s friends — tweens when Dylan disappeared nearly a decade ago, but now in their early 20s — described how Dylan spent what prosecutors say was his final day alive. Dylan had a sleepover and hung out with friends in the Colorado Springs area before he flew to Durango on Nov. 18, 2012, and he made plans to get out of his father’s house as soon as he could, testimony revealed.
Mark Redwine, 59, is charged with second-degree murder and child abuse in Dylan’s death. The boy was reported missing Nov. 19, 2012 — the day after Dylan arrived to stay at his father’s house for the holiday. His disappearance prompted an extensive search and drew national attention; his remains were not found until 2013.
“I remember it like it was yesterday,” testified Joseph Ceballos, 21, one of Dylan’s childhood friends. He and another friend had a sleepover with Dylan the night before he left. Ceballos hugged Dylan goodbye on the afternoon of Nov. 18, 2012, when Dylan’s mother picked him up to take him to the airport.
“He really didn’t want to go,” Ceballos said. “I could see fear inside his eyes.”
A day later, when he learned Dylan was missing, he immediately broke down, Ceballos testified.
“I was in tears,” he said. “I had a sick feeling in my stomach and I just completely broke down.”
Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty, who is working as a special prosecutor on the La Plata County case, did not press Dylan’s friends as to why the teenager didn’t want to visit his father, but during an exchange in court while the jury was not present, he alluded to a strained and potentially abusive relationship between Redwine and his son.
On cross-examination, Redwine’s defense team sought to bolster their claim that Dylan ran away from home, establishing that Dylan previously had hitchhiked and that he sometimes dealt with problems by “walking away” from them. The defense team also worked to undermine the significance of Dylan’s reluctance to visit his father, suggesting his perception had been unfairly influenced by his parent’s contentious custody battle.
In the days after Dylan disappeared, Redwine proposed to The Denver Post that the boy may have hitchhiked to meet a friend in Bayfield — a theory the defense has promoted at trial.
Dylan had asked to spend his first night in town at the friend’s house, but Redwine had said he couldn’t go, text messages between the friends show. Dylan instead planned to meet his friend, Ryan Nava, at Nava’s house at 6:30 a.m. on Nov. 19, 2012, but never arrived.
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That afternoon, Redwine visited Nava’s home and said he couldn’t find Dylan and had hoped he was there.
“Dude, your dad is looking for you,” Nava, now 22, texted Dylan at 4:12 p.m. that day. Then, later on, “Are you all right dude?”
He and Dylan’s other friends struggled to cope after Dylan disappeared, they testified. Friend Amanda Saxton, 22, lost her composure and had to take a break Tuesday as she read aloud a text message she’d sent to Dylan 10 days after he’d been reported missing, when she was 13.
“Dylan you probably won’t get this but in case you do, I just want to tell you that I’ve liked you forever. I love you and I’ve loved you to this day… You mean so much to me,” she read, crying. “I promise I will find you and that’s a promise I’m willing to keep until the day I die.”