Danielle Redlick scrolled through the dating app after fatally stabbing husband Michael Redlick, prosecutors say
The Florida home shared by Danielle and Michael Redlick looked like “out of a horror movie” when officers entered on the morning of Jan. 12, 2019, a prosecutor said Thursday.
Inside, Michael, 65, lay dead in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor, flanked by blood-soaked towels, a mop, cleaning fluid and a bucket of water dew, Assistant District Attorney Sean Wiggins said. He had been fatally stabbed in the shoulder by his 15-year-old wife the night before.
Today, jurors in Danielle Redlick’s trial were asked to decide: Was the stabbing of Michael Redlick – a former NBA executive turned college employee – an act of murder or self-defense?
The attorneys made their opening statements in the case Thursday morning in Orlando, where the trial is expected to take place before a national audience.
Although they disagree on the cause of Michael’s stabbing — Danielle pleaded not guilty, citing self-defense — Wiggins and assistant public defender Catherine Conlon admit the Redlicks’ marriage was unique.
This is because Michael, who is 20 years older than Danielle, was once her stepfather.
Michael dated Danielle’s mother, Kathleen Aquino, for three years and married her, Conlon said, before she died of breast cancer just three months after saying ‘yes’.
Soon after, Michael asked Danielle, who was 20, to move in with him to help take care of her 16-year-old sister who was still living with him. Danielle didn’t immediately agree, but the two became close, with Michael visiting her at work and the two attending concerts together, Conlon said.
But those days of fun quickly turned sour after the two got married. Conlon claimed the relationship became overbearing and abusive, deteriorating further after the couple had two babies together.
Michael drank heavily and was particularly aggressive in his later years because of testosterone supplements, which he used to relieve erectile dysfunction, Conlon said.
This alleged assault prompted Danielle to file for divorce in 2018, but a judge denied her request because Michael was not properly served with the divorce papers, according to court records. Then 44, she stayed with her husband despite “repeated” attacks, Conlon said.
An affidavit of Danielle’s arrest suggests she may have shown signs of assaulting Michael herself, which Wiggins says prosecutors plan to focus on in court.
Before Michael was killed, he joked with a friend that his wife “is crazy but as long as I hide the steak knives, I’ll be fine,” the document says. This friend told police the couple briefly lived in separate homes, but Michael moved back to a $1 million Lakeside Winter Park home with his wife about a month before the stabbing.
The confidant said he called Michael that month and jokingly asked if he was still hiding the knives. “Oh yeah,” Michael replied, according to the friend.
Conlon argued Thursday that Michael’s violence on the night of the stabbings had reached a new level, forcing his client to stab him in the shoulder in a struggle before fleeing.
“He pushes her down,” Conlon explained. “She gets down on her knees. He pulls her by the hair. He pushes her towards the kitchen island. He chokes. He chokes her. She searches in a drawer; she grabs a knife; she stabs him once; he is dizzy; he frees her; and she runs to the bathroom.
But prosecutors aren’t buying this story, largely because it wasn’t the original explanation given by Danielle. Instead, she initially told a 911 operator that she believed her husband had had a heart attack. She then claimed that Michael stabbed himself with a knife and bled while she hid in a bathroom all night.
Conlon says his client now admits she stabbed her husband, but only realized the next morning that she had killed him.
Wiggins, however, said on Thursday that it would be impossible for Danielle to ignore her husband’s death for 11 hours. He claims phone activity shows she deleted messages she had exchanged with Michael and also used her phone to browse a dating app for a future suitor hours before calling the police at home.
“She came out in December … that she was looking for a long-term relationship,” Wiggins said. “This is the dating site this defendant opens while her husband is lying dead on the floor.”
Cleaning products strewn around the house also indicated that Danielle was trying to hide something, Wiggins said. He said the prosecution plans to bring in an expert who will describe how the “scene was erased” by Danielle, who also faces a charge of tampering with evidence.
“Despite the fact that she didn’t go through the divorce, she wasn’t interested in a life with Mr. Redlick,” Wiggins said. “She wanted to be happy and happiness for Mrs. Redlick was a life beyond Michael.”
The maximum sentence Danielle could face if convicted is life in prison. The Orlando SentinelI reports that she previously rejected an offer from prosecutors to plead guilty to manslaughter and serve more than 10 years behind bars.