Darlie Routier: Wikis

  
  

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Darlie Routier
Born January 4, 1970(1970-01-04)
Altoona, Pennsylvania
Conviction(s) Capital murder, 1 count
Penalty Death by lethal injection
Status On death row

Darlie Lynn Routier (born January 4, 1970) is an American woman from Rowlett, Texas who was convicted of murdering her young son Damon, and is currently on death row awaiting execution by lethal injection. Though it is widely believed that she killed both her sons, Damon and Devon, she was prosecuted for and convicted only of Damon's death. The children were stabbed to death in the family's home on June 6, 1996. Routier also sustained knife wounds, which prosecutors claimed were self-inflicted. On June 18, 2008 a court granted her request to re-test blood evidence using more current DNA technology.

Contents

Motives

Prosecutors claimed that Routier murdered her sons because of the financial difficulties her family faced. She was a full-time homemaker while her husband, Darin, a small business owner, earned a relatively high annual income. However, most of the money he earned was quickly spent. This was later referred to as "living large" by Darin Routier in an interview with Joe Munoz of KXAS Channel 5 on June 14, 1996. The family lived in a lavish Georgian home in an affluent neighborhood, drove a Jaguar, and owned a $24,000 boat.[1] Prosecutors argued that Darlie, described as a pampered and materialistic woman, with substantial debt, plummeting credit ratings, and little money in the bank, feared that her affluent lifestyle was about to end and killed two of her children to rid herself of a financial burden.[citation needed] While this claim has been disputed by her family and other supporters, it is worth noting that by the time of the murders, the money had practically run out, the Jaguar and the boat weren't running, and their income had fallen by $90,000 from the year before.[citation needed] In addition, they allegedly owed up to $10,000 in back taxes and $12,000 in credit card debt, were two months behind on their mortgage payments, and had just been denied a $5,000 loan by their bank.[citation needed]

Murder

Routier claimed that an intruder killed her children, but police became suspicious when they found inconsistencies between some of Darlie's report and crime scene evidence. Routier's children were killed with deep, penetrating knife wounds to their torsos, while the slashes to Routier's neck and arm were more superficial. Routier claimed that at one point she ran barefoot through her kitchen to call for help. The floor of the kitchen was covered with broken glass, but Routier had no injuries to her feet. In addition, traces of the screen that the intruder supposedly cut were found on one of the knives in Routier's kitchen that had been placed back in the butcher block. The sink in the kitchen had been cleaned up, but blood was found down the front of the cabinets directly under the sink, so police suspected that she inflicted her wounds over the sink, then washed the blood down. Areas of blood around the sink had been wiped away, as revealed by a luminol test. Her claim for defensive wounds was the bruising on her arms. However, at trial, after looking at photos taken June 10, Dr. Alex Santos, the trauma surgeon who operated on Darlie, stated that the bruising looked to be only a day or two old at most, which would mean it occurred in the hospital. When questioned by the defense, however, Dr. Santos extended the timeline and said the bruising might have been inflicted up to four days before the photo was taken, that is, on June 6.[2]

There were other details:

  • Officers at the scene, paramedics, nurses, doctors and neighbors were all struck by the fact that Routier never asked how the boys were or inquired whether they were alive.[citation needed]
  • First responder Officer David Waddell asked Routier repeatedly to apply pressure to her son Damon's back and to tend to him, but received no response from her. However, she continued to apply pressure to her own neck wounds.
  • After the operator told Darlie not to touch anything, Routier told the 9-1-1 operator that she had already picked up the murder weapon (thus removing any prints), which made police suspicious.
  • The surgeon who attended her referred to her wounds as "superficial". They were described by prosecutors as "hesitation wounds".
  • Spots of blood found on her clothing demonstrated she had, at the very least, been very close to her sons while they were stabbed. The blood from both sons was deposited in a projected bloodstain pattern on the back and shoulder of her nightdress, indicating blood cast off from the weapon.
  • Routier told her ex-maid that she wasn't worried about the cost of the funeral as she could claim $10,000 in funeral insurance.[citation needed]
  • Routier was considering suicide two months before killing her sons.[3]
  • The very evening before the murder, Routier argued with her husband and asked him for a separation[citation needed]; moreover there were claims of extramarital dating by both partners.
  • In the 911 call, she stated she was 'fighting' the intruder; however, at trial this was heavily disputed by the defense team, who said she stated she was 'frightening.'[citation needed] Prosecutors stated this was said to explain the lack of blood on the sofa and surrounding areas where she was supposedly stabbed.
  • Another steadfast argument by the police was that the slash on Darlie's throat was at a downward 45 degree angle, consistent with having made the slash herself.

Routier described the alleged attacker as a man of medium height, dressed entirely in black with a t-shirt and baseball cap. However, she later claimed to suffer from traumatic amnesia due to the event, and her account was of little use.

Sentence

Routier was ultimately convicted of murdering one of her two sons, and sentenced to death. Prosecutors did not try Routier for the death of the second son, holding his murder in reserve in case of Routier's acquittal on the first murder trial.[citation needed]

As of 2010, Routier is incarcerated in the Mountain View Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ); she has the TDCJ ID 00999220.[4]

Routier's defense attorney, Douglas Mulder, was the district attorney responsible for the wrongful death penalty conviction of Randall Adams in 1977. Adams' case is profiled in the documentary The Thin Blue Line.

Scandal

The public was horrified by newscasts of Routier and other family members holding a "birthday party" at the children's grave to celebrate posthumously Devon's 7th birthday, just eight days after the murder. The grave had been under hidden police surveillance to obtain evidence against Routier, in the event that she were to break down or otherwise make a confession near the graveside. Darlie arrived with a local television crew she had invited, essentially rendering moot any need for police surveillance. At the birthday party, Routier was shown laughing and spraying silly string on her sons' grave. Darlie yelled out to her dead children that she loved them, all the while grinning and chewing bubble gum. Four days later, she was charged with their murder. When the case was tried in court, the jury was shown the so-called "silly string tape."

Innocence claims

Routier's family created and maintains a website that proclaims her innocence. The claims are based on mistakes her defense attorneys allege were made during her trial and in the investigation of the murders, especially at the crime scene. Some have argued that Routier should be given a new trial, often alleging that her original trial was based heavily on circumstantial evidence and therefore unfair.

Routier's supporters say there are other indications:

  • A bloody fingerprint that was smeared, and not intact enough to be conclusively linked to anybody at the crime scene.
  • The possibility of a second murder weapon. (This was refuted by the pathologist, who never ruled out the possibility of one weapon being used against all three victims.)
  • Conflicting statements from witnesses and experts.
  • Witness statements being ignored. For example, one witness claimed to have seen a man similar in description to the one Mrs. Routier said she saw lurking around her home earlier that same day. The witness who claimed to have seen this mysterious stranger meandering about and looking constantly at the Routier house in broad daylight did not actually go to the police, or to any other agency, with this information until 2002. The police also received no complaints or calls from concerned residents the day that this strange person was allegedly behaving oddly and lurking about in an upper middle class residential area where children frequently played outside, often with minimal adult supervision.
  • Police photos which showed that items were moved around by the police.
  • Despite police statements, there was allegedly no mulch underneath the window of the garage. One of the points they made during trial was that this mulch had been undisturbed, although there may have actually been no mulch there.
  • Routier's husband confirmed in court testimony that he witnessed Darlie go to the kitchen on several occasions to get wet towels for the boy's wounds. He also claimed to have entered the kitchen himself without injuring his own feet. He stated under oath that Darlie was trying to hold her son's chest wound closed while he attempted mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. He testified of blood spraying up over them from Devon's wounds when he blew in his mouth and his chest.
  • Routier's husband testified to being owed approximately $30,000 in "accounts receivable" at the time of the attack, suggesting that the family was not in financial difficulty, as had been widely claimed.
  • According to her husband's testimony in court, Darlie Routier was upset, but not suicidal several months before the attack. His testimony states she resumed menstruating several days afterwards for the first time since the birth of her third son. He did not ever see a "suicide note," or claim she was suicidal. He further stated her moods returned to normal after her period began several days later.
  • According to her husband's court recorded testimony, Routier already knew her boys were dead, but did not specify how his wife had arrived at this conclusion, or if she had taken the boy's vital signs prior to the police's arrival at the scene, by the time she was taken to the hospital. Her determination that her sons were already dead is meant to explain why she would not inquire as to the condition of her children. Her husband's testimony states she did ask about and hold her baby boy while still in the hospital.
  • Although the doctors stated that Routier's wounds were 'superficial,' the wound to her neck came within 2 mm of her carotid sheath. (Obviously this is very different from the deep, thrusting stabbing wounds of the victims. Given that Routier had no training in physiology, the laceration could easily have been self-inflicted without Routier comprehending how dangerous this was.)
  • It is also possible the attacker wanted only to incapacitate Routier so he could escape, having accomplished his goal of murdering the two boys. No explanation has been offered as to why a grown man would break into a house in the dead of night in order to specifically murder two little boys, unless Routier's supporters are implying that elements in organized crime had taken contracts out on the two boys, and why he would leave a living adult eyewitness to his crime.
  • Routier's necklace was allegedly "embedded" in the laceration on her neck, lending evidence to claims that the wound was unlikely to be self-inflicted. However, according to the medical staff in attendance at the time of her hospitalization, the necklace was not actually embedded in her wound, but merely sticking to the dried blood on her neck, and was easily and painlessly pulled off.

Critics have stated that these claims are not credible, and merely suggest that the investigation and subsequent trial were imperfect. Despite the failure of Darlie's appeals, and continued judicial review of her claims, her supporters continue to contend that there is enough reasonable doubt in the case to continue efforts to release her, and that DNA testing may eventually exonerate her. DNA testing has been performed on several occasions since her conviction and defense attorneys have claimed it should be considered sufficient evidence for her to be granted a new trial. In June 2008, the Texas Appeals Courts granted Darlie limited DNA testing on the blood, hairs, etc. found at the scene of the murder.

The story of Darlie Routier was covered on a 2004 episode of the CourtTV series The Investigators titled "Mother on Death Row: Darlie Routier". The episode ends with a screen noting that "In May 2003, despite forensics proving that the disputed finger print is not from the Routiers or investigators, Texas upheld Darlie Routier's conviction. The defense is appealing to federal courts."[5]

On September 10, 2008, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected, without comment, her attorney's motion for a second chance to make their case for more DNA testing.[6]

References

  1. ^ Davis, Don. Hush Little Babies. New York, St. Martin's Press, 1997, pages 120, 123, and 125 - 126.
  2. ^ Davis, Don. Hush Little Babies. New York, St. Martin's Press, 1997, pages 201 and 202.
  3. ^ Davis, Don. Hush Little Babies. New York, St. Martin's Press, 1997, page 129.
  4. ^ "Routier, Darlie Lynn." Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on January 5, 2010.
  5. ^ The Investigators, season 4 episode 10, Mother on Death Row: Darlie Routier
  6. ^ "Attorneys denied further DNA testing for convicted child killer Darlie Routier>". http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/localnews/stories/091008dnmetroutiercase.626acd12.html. 

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