DURANGO, Colo. — Dylan Redwine was by all accounts a normal 13-year-old boy who loved to hang out with his friends, had a rambunctious streak and was often texting people on his phone and on his iPod throughout the day.
These seemingly mundane interactions were the key part of the first day of testimony in the trial of the boy’s father, Mark Redwine, who is charged with second-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death for Dylan's November 2012 disappearance.
Ryan Nava, who is now 22, was one of Dylan Redwine’s closet friends and was among the last people who communicated with him. Nava testified that the day before Dylan was reported missing, the two had made plans for him to come to his home early that morning after his dad had reportedly nixed a sleepover.
“He never showed up,” Nava said.
He was the first witness called to the stand and was asked to recount a series of text messages that the two adolescent boys had exchanged nearly nine years ago.
“We became pretty close,” he said of Dylan. “I’d say we were in ‘best friend’ territory."
Nava said that the day after he last heard from Dylan, Mark Redwine came to his house to look for Dylan.
“I texted him ‘dude, your dad’s looking for you,’ ” Nava said. “I became more worried, and later I told him ‘dude, you need to call somebody, anybody as soon as possible.’ ”
He didn't get a response.
Dylan Redwine wouldn’t be heard from again, and his body was found on Middle Mountain near his home in Bayfield the following spring.
Amanda Saxton, another friend of Dylan's, testified that the two stayed in touch after he moved away from Vallecito to Colorado Springs after his parents' divorce.
“We were very obnoxious and felt like we were invincible, like nothing could touch us,” she said, adding that the two would talk almost every day.
The night when Dylan was last heard from – Nov. 18, 2012 – was no exception. She said their conversation ended abruptly that evening while they discussed movies and TV shows (he told her he’d been watching “Adventureland”). Saxton said she didn’t hear from him on Nov. 19, 2012, or any day after that.
She said she didn’t find out he was missing until she saw a poster on Facebook.
“I was pretty shocked, and I almost couldn’t believe it at first,” Saxton said.
Dylan had flown to the Durango area the day before he was last seen, for a court-ordered visit with his father. The evening before, he had been at a sleepover with friends, and they also took the witness stand to discuss what they remembered from their seemingly mundane 2012 conversations.
One of them, Cristen Baird, now 22, said the only reason Dylan had any interest in going to Vallecito was to visit his friends.
“He did not want to see his father,” Baird said.
During opening statements, the prosecution testified that Dylan and Mark Redwine had a fraught relationship after the discovery of graphic photos of the latter. The defense argued that it’s possible the boy could have run away, and this was the focus of cross-examination during Tuesday’s testimony.
Nava said that he and Dylan had hitchhiked before, but it was only for a short distance during a blizzard. Saxton said it wasn’t uncommon for the boy to walk away after disagreements and that it was something she had witnessed firsthand.
Another friend, Joseph Ceballos, testified that he had warned Dylan he couldn’t stay at his grandfather’s house if he continued to wander off at night.
However, none of the witnesses said they had any indication that Dylan would have run away or hurt himself.
The trial will continue Wednesday with testimony describing surveillance video of Dylan and Mark Redwine inside a Walmart the night he was last heard from. The boy was seen looking in the electronics aisle while his father shopped for food.
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