IDAHO FALLS — Dylan Rounds’ parents want the man charged with their son’s murder to face the death penalty.
Rounds, 19, was reported missing last May while he was farming in the town of Lucin near the Utah/Nevada border. The suspect in the case, James Brenner, 59, was charged Friday with one count of aggravated murder and one count of abuse or desecration of a human body.
“For us as a family and for Dylan, this is a huge win. This cannot be swept under the rug. It’s out there, charges are filed and we can start moving forward,” Dylan’s mom, Candice Cooley, tells EastIdahoNews.com.
Court documents filed in Box Elder County, Utah show investigators conducted a digital forensic download of Rounds’ phone and discovered a video with a time stamp taken at the time Rounds disappeared.
“The video showed the defendant with blood stains on his arms and shirt as he was cleaning a gun. The shirt which defendant is wearing in the video was analyzed and the victim’s DNA was found on the shirt,” the probable cause statement says.
Cooley says the video was recorded inside Brenner’s trailer at 7:27 a.m. on Saturday, May 28 – around 30 minutes after Rounds spoke with his grandmother on the phone. It was the last time his family heard from him.
After the call, Rounds went to move his grain truck inside a shed near Brenner’s trailer before it started to rain.
“We know Dylan was at the gate (to enter the shed) around 6:57 a.m. If you give it another five minutes, he’s up at the shed around 7:02, 7:03,” Cooley explains. “So everything happened within like 32 minutes.”
Cooley says her son’s phone did not record anything else and she, along with Justin Rounds, Dylan’s dad, have no idea how the device preserved such a crucial piece of video evidence.
“How did that phone start recording? It has driven us crazy,” Cooley says. “I’m pretty sure when Brenner took the phone, he just hit the wrong button or had a wrong swipe and had no clue. Then it started recording.”
Rounds’ parents say the video shows the “cold-heartedness” of the alleged crime and has made them more determined to see that justice is served on behalf of their son.
“When I heard about the video of him washing the blood off of his hands and the gun…it hit me hard. I was so angry. And I wasn’t supposed to tell anybody about it – it was just hard,” Justin Rounds says.
Justin Rounds recalls visiting the area where Dylan disappeared last May for the first time and speaking with Brenner. Looking back, he feels the conversation may shed some light on why the man may have killed his son.
“When I got there, Brenner was talking about how Dylan backed into his horse gate. He was a little frustrated and I didn’t think a whole lot about it at the time. But that could have been what set him off,” Rounds says.
Despite not knowing where Dylan is, Cooley and Rounds are confident they will find him soon. They plan to conduct searches once the snow melts and will use private agencies to assist in recovering their son’s body.
Brenner is scheduled to be arraigned on April 24. Cooley and Rounds will be in court and want the prosecutor to pursue the death penalty against him.
While the past nine months have been heartbreaking, stressful, sad, and full of all kinds of emotions, the parents appreciate the public’s support in finding their son.
“I want to say thank you. There are good people out there. Thank you,” Rounds says.
WATCH OUR ENTIRE INTERVIEW WITH COOLEY AND ROUNDS IN THE VIDEO PLAYER ABOVE