Judge allows dog sniffing evidence at Redwine trial, for now

A judge overseeing the trial of Mark Redwine, a Vallecito man accused of killing his 13-year-old son, Dylan, upheld a decision this week to allow evidence obtained by sniffing dogs at trial, despite the defense’s argument that such evidence is unscientific and unreliable.

Evidence obtained by canines and their handlers trained to detect human remains may be presented as factual, expert testimony at a four-week September trial where prosecutors will work to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Redwine killed his son in November 2012. Attorneys working on the Redwine trial are barred from speaking about the case by court order.

Sixth Judicial District Court Judge Jeffery Wilson said in an order Monday that the defense’s latest attempt to exclude cadaver dog evidence did not convince him to change an order he’d already issued citing a Colorado Supreme Court case where justices admitted evidence obtained by canines and their handlers as expert testimony.

Sixth Judicial District Court Chief Judge Jeffrey Wilson listens during Mark Redwine’s advisement hearing at the La Plata County Courthouse.

Wilson said in his order that he will allow the defense team to present further arguments and evidence at an upcoming motions hearing about why cadaver dog evidence shouldn’t be allowed at trial. Public defenders previously submitted a 39-page motion, written by The Innocence Project and signed by defense attorney John Moran, arguing that evidence obtained by cadaver dogs does not rise to the reliability required by the court for scientific evidence.

Prosecutors, in part, hinge their case on the fact that cadaver dogs “indicated that a deceased person had been in (Redwine’s) living room and bed of his pickup truck …,” according to the indictment.

“What is at issue is what has never been proven with any degree of scientific reliability: the ability of a dog to detect the residual scent of a particular object, including human remains, at a specific location days, weeks, months or even more than a year after that object was removed,” The Innocence Project wrote in its motion signed by Moran. “Yet, that is precisely the speculative theory upon which the state seeks to base its case against Mr. Redwine.”

Dylan Redwine disappeared from his father’s home in November 2012 in Vallecito. His partial remains were found in June 2013 on Middle Mountain. His death was ruled a homicide.

Mark Redwine has maintained his innocence ever since. He has been charged with second-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death. If convicted, he could face 16 to 48 years in prison.

bhauff@durangoherald.com

Mark Redwine at his first court appearance in Durango. He faces second-degree murder charges in connection with his son Dylan’s death. With Redwine is his public defender, Justin Bogan.

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