On the day he was arrested, a Big Oak Flat man told detectives he had killed a man on the Black Road property where they both lived.
The interview with a Tuolumne County deputy was videotaped and played in court Friday.
Elton Redick, 43, is charged with murder in the death of Marc John DeJong, 48, who died in a shed on the property on Sept. 25, 2017.
“It all led up to, I just can’t let him get away with it,” he said in the video. “I even had the thought that I can’t do this, but it had to be done.”
Redick said he was struggling with mounting hostility toward DeJong because he thought DeJong was intimately involved with Bonnie Palmer, who Redick said he was involved with as well. But then she had rebuffed his advances.
The night before the murder, Redick said he was up all night irritated by the sound of rats that scratched and knocked against his trailer. He felt paranoid and had used methamphetamine, but he didn’t believe it contributed to his insomnia that night.
The next morning, at daylight, he said he believed he heard DeJong scream from a shed and that he and Palmer were involved in a sex act.
Armed with a .25 caliber semi-automatic pistol, Redick burst into the shed and shot DeJong twice, in the head and face, according to investigators.
Palmer asked him, “Why’d you do it?” Redick said in the video. He responded, “How could I not do it?”
The first-degree premeditated murder charge also includes a special allegation enhancement for the use of a firearm in the commission of the murder; and the charge of kidnapping a victim and another special allegation enhancement for the use of a firearm in the commission of a crime.
In the video, Redick said he locked the door to a trailer with a cord to talk to Palmer.
The video recording was made on Sept. 26, 2017, with Detective Daniel Newman of the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office.
Redick, dressed in khaki pants, a white button-down shirt and a blue striped tie, laid his head down on the desk in front of him while the video played in the courtroom.
Tuolumne County District Attorney Laura Krieg said the jury, comprised of six men and six women, all of whom appeared to be middle-aged or older, was seated by the end of the day Wednesday.
On Thursday, the prosecution and defense attorneys made opening statements, and Krieg called two Tuolumne County Sheriff’s deputies, Bonnie Palmer and Newman, to the stand to testify.
In the video, Redick appeared to be in tears and grabbed tissues from a box next to him. He often slumped his head against the wall and spoke in a soft monotone.
Redick was arrested at the Claim Jumper Outpost in Big Oak Flat, less than a quarter mile from the site of the killing.
In the video, he said he knew he would be captured, and he never intended to flee from deputies.
“Either hang myself or get caught,” he said.
Sgt. Gregory Christopher Rogers of the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office said that, despite the countywide manhunt for Redick, he was found almost by coincidence.
Rogers said he was dressed in plainclothes with a visible badge in an unmarked, blue Sheriff’s Office Ford Expedition when he parked outside of the Claim Jumper Outpost to get a Lunchable and a Monster energy drink for lunch.
He was on a call with Newman, who was conducting further investigation at the Sheriff’s Office in Sonora, when he saw Redick walk by his vehicle and noticed his distinctive “salt and pepper hair” and forearm tattoo.
“It was almost like you took that same picture,” he said in reference to a social media post of Redick circulated by the Sheriff’s Office during the manhunt, “and he was standing right there.”
After calling for backup, Rogers saw two feet sticking out of an open area crawl space under the basement of the Claim Jumper Outpost.
With his gun drawn and another deputy joining him around the other side of the building, the deputies took Redick into custody.
Rogers said when Redick was arrested he said, “I knew this was going to happen. I just got thirsty. Whatever she told the clerk, it isn’t true.”
During the video recording, Redick made multiple references to being thirsty and his return to the Claim Jumper Outpost. He also repeatedly referred to Murphy’s Law or “whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.” Newman testified that after Palmer was allegedly kidnapped, she was seen on video surveillance entering the store.
The firearm that killed DuJong was found in a blackberry bush adjacent to the Black Road property. Palmer had told a deputy where the gun was, Newman said.
A drone video played on the screen inside the courtroom that scanned the entire property, and zoomed into the site of the .25 caliber semi-automatic pistol, which was hidden in a pile of brush, sticks and leaves.
Newman said an inmate work crew used chainsaws, rakes and other tools to clear the blackberry bush to find the weapon.
During his testimony, Newman also said two .25 caliber shell casings were found at the scene of the shooting, and he saw a bullet removed from DeJong’s brain during an autopsy.
Witness Dennis Todd North said he gave Redick the gun for protection approximately 10 days before the murder. North knew Redick after hiring him at his construction company, he said.
“There was no indication to me that he would use it,” North said.
Krieg said her next witness, a pathologist who would identify the cause of death as a gunshot wound to the head, was not available until Wednesday.
Gross said the defense would decide whether they would call witnesses once the prosecution rested.
If convicted, Redick faces a maximum sentence of 50 years to life in prison for the murder charge and the special allegation enhancement, and 18 years for the kidnapping charge with the special allegation enhancement.
Redick has pleaded not guilty.
The trial will resume at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday in Department 2 of the Tuolumne County Superior Court.