The Darlie Routier Case

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    This site seeks to provide information about the case of Darlie Routier. Darlie is on death row in Texas for a crime she has steadfastly maintained she did not commit.

    A growing body of evidence supports her claims of innocence.

    Please take time to learn about Darlie’s case. Join us in speaking out.

    Use the site map located here, the search tool below, or click on the headers at the top of the page to navigate the site.

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The Prosecution

Darlie’s trial was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney, Greg Davis, with Toby Shook and Sherri Wallace assisting. Darlie was ultimately only tried for the murder of Damon because under Texas law, if convicted, she would be eligible for the death penalty.

“That she will be sentenced to die, and at some day in the future, she will be executed. That is our goal in this case”, Greg Davis said early on, making his intentions abundantly clear during jury selection.

The prosecutors’ first undertaking was to ensure Darlie remained in custody, thereby creating the perception that she was, at least, a flight risk, at worst, a threat to society. Despite a motion filed by court appointed attorney Doug Parks to have her bond drastically reduced, on July 5, 1996, Judge Mark Tolle denied it. Darlie’s bond would remain at half a million dollars on each charge of murder.

Doug Parks then erred by requesting a change of venue. He was of the belief that Darlie could not receive a fair trial in Dallas County and on July 10, 1996, filed a motion to have the trial moved.

On September 12, Judge Tolle granted Parks’ request and the trial was moved to Kerrville. This played right into the hands of the prosecution, given that Kerrville is situated in one of Texas’ most conservative counties.

When Doug Mulder succeeded Parks as counsel for Darlie, he quickly filed a motion to have the case returned to Dallas County. Judge Tolle denied the motion, much to the delight of the prosecution.

The State’s case was further aided by an overzealous and biased media which had spent the previous six months portraying Darlie as a materialistic doer of evil. Sensationalism sells, whereas truth and facts are less marketable.

Contrary to popular belief, the State’s case was built almost entirely upon circumstantial evidence. Davis knew this, hence his need to attack Darlie’s character and question her mental state in the months preceding the murders. He knew only too well that such tactics would influence the conservative jury.

At a pre-trial hearing on August 26, some four months before the jury trial, Dr. Janis Parchman-Townsend testified as to the wounds Darlie had sustained at the time of the murders. Dr. Parchman-Townsend had attended Darlie at Baylor Medical Center on the morning of June 6.

Davis systematically inquired about each of these injuries before concluding his direct examination with “At the time that you saw Mrs. Routier, did you know whether or not she had had breast implants?” The bemused doctor replied “I did not know”. With that, Davis passed the witness. He had achieved his aim.

On the same day, Darin Routier took the stand and it wasn’t long before Davis steered his line of questioning toward the topic of Darlie’s cosmetic surgery. Doug Mulder objected to the relevance of this line of questioning to which Davis responded “It goes to the relevance of the location of the wounds, and why we have no wounds around the breast area or the torso to this defendant, as opposed to the wounds to these children”.

It was clear to all in the open court that Davis’ intention was to portray Darlie as not only vain, but to suggest the wounds she sustained were self inflicted. However, Judge Paul Banner (who was sitting in for Tolle) overruled Mulder’s objection.

Silly String Video

Darlie’s state of mind leading up to June 6 was a preoccupation of the prosecution, as was her behavior in the weeks afterward. The events of June 14, Devon’s birthday, would play a significant role in the State’s case.

Devon was to have turned seven years old on June 14 and plans to celebrate his birthday were already underway prior to his murder. On that day the Routier’s held a prayer service at the boys’ grave site which was attended by family and friends. They brought gifts, balloons and trinkets, with which they adorned the grave. Darlie’s sister, Dana, who had arranged the days’ festivities also brought cans of ‘Silly String’ which she and Darlie sprayed exuberantly.

Local media were in attendance and Darlie was interviewed at the grave site by Joe Munoz, from television station KXAS-5. The video was played at a pretrial hearing and, therefore, not in the presence of a jury. Davis would approach the subject quite differently when the jury trial commenced.

During the interview, Darlie told Munoz “if you knew Devon and Damon, you would know that they are up in heaven, and they are up there having the biggest birthday party that we could ever imagine. And they would not want us to be down here being sad, even though our hearts are breaking; I know that Devon and Damon would want us to be happy”.

Prosecutors would claim that such frivolity was not befitting of a mother who had lost two of her sons in a brutal double homicide just eight days earlier. Darlie was taking medication for anxiety and depression, prompting Davis to pose the question “Are you trying to blame your behavior, shooting Silly String, laughing and giggling on any medication?” Darlie quite rightly replied “No, I am not blaming my behavior, I don’t think there is anything to blame”.

During the trial, the prosecution would play the video to the jury countless times. The version they played was heavily edited, showing only the portion in which Darlie and Dana were spraying the Silly String at the grave site. It was Davis’ intention for the jury to believe Darlie was a remorseless, uncaring mother whose actions were that of a guilty person. The jury was blissfully unaware of the somber mood earlier in the day during the prayer service. Curiously, Dana was never called to testify as to the days’ events, nor the lead up to it.

In 2002, juror Charles Samford, would state in an affidavit tendered to Darlie’s appeals attorneys that “The videotape was one of the main reasons I voted to convict Mrs. Routier of murder because I didn’t know what to make of her behavior”.

Samford also stated in his affidavit that after the trial he was shown a different video of the events of June 14, concluding “Had we been shown this other tape so that we had been able to see the whole picture of what happened that day, I believe I would not have voted to convict Mrs. Routier”. It was evident that the prosecution’s ploy had the desired effect on the jury.

Motive

Under Texas law, the State was not required to prove motive but that did not dissuade them from alluding to events which would have an impact on the thought processes of jurors.

The prosecution was determined to use the Routier’s perceived financial woes as a motivating factor for Darlie to have committed murder. In his opening statement to the jury on January 6, 1997, Davis described Darlie as “a self-centered woman, a materialistic woman, and a woman cold enough, in fact, to murder her own two children”.

He then proceeded to intimate that the Routier’s had found themselves in dire financial straits in the months leading up the murders. Davis stated “When we come to June the 5th, 1996, the evidence is going to show you that those problems began to worsen, and they had worsened over time”. An account statement for their business, Testnec, belies any such claim.

Davis then alleged that due to the three boys beginning to take up much of her time, Darlie “was becoming angry because, in fact, her lifestyle that she had grown accustomed to, the vacations, the buying sprees, the nice things, the freedom, those things were starting to go away, and she was beginning to become very angry by that time”. Unsurprisingly, Davis had no solid evidence to support this allegation. Further, he was to suggest Darin having been turned down for a $5,000 bank loan on the Saturday before the murders was in fact proof of their insolvency.

Witnesses

Among the witnesses the State sought to testify against Darlie were medical staff employed at Baylor University Medical Center who were working the morning of June 6. Several of them would testify with regard to Darlie’s emotional state that morning. Under direct examination by Toby Shook, trauma coordinator Jody Cotner testified that Darlie “was kind of withdrawn” and “didn’t cry very often”. Cotner had made no notes that morning which would have supported her testimony.

Shook went even further, asking her to impart her knowledge of ‘defensive wounds’ to the court. Defense attorney John Hagler objected to this on the grounds that Cotner was not a forensic expert and therefore not qualified to offer an opinion. The objection was overruled by Judge Tolle.

Nurse Dianne Hollon attempted to trivialize Darlie’s state, testifying that “she didn’t show a whole lot of emotions” and went as far as to say “it seemed that” she cried more than Darlie did that day. Her embellishment of what occurred that day is contrary to her focus notes. More detailed information on the Baylor medical staff can be found here.

Another witness whom the prosecution would call to testify was William “Bill” Parker, a former homicide detective with the Dallas PD who at the time was working as a private detective. At the request of the Rowlett PD Parker attended the station at approximately 6 p.m. on the evening of June 18 “for the purpose of speaking with Mrs. Routier”.

His presence that evening was more specious than anyone was willing to admit; he was there to attempt to elicit a confession from Darlie. Under direct examination by Davis, Parker stated that he asked Darlie if she had killed her children “10 or 12 times, a dozen times maximum” and that she never once denied that she had.

Pressing further, Davis enquired “Do you recall what statements, if any, that she made to you, when you confronted her with the fact that you thought she had killed her children?” Parker stated that on each occasion Darlie responded, “If I did it, I don’t remember”. This is something that Darlie steadfastly denied having said when she took the stand to testify in her defense.

There are several critical aspects of this interview which are noteworthy. For one, there was no audio or video recordings taken to document precisely what was said during this interview. The following is an excerpt from Doug Mulder’s cross examination of Parker:

Mulder: You were put in a – what – an interrogation room?

Parker: We were in rooms they use for interviews there, yes.

Mulder: Okay. Were they – were you alone when you were interviewing Mrs. Routier?

Parker: Yes, sir.

Mulder: Okay.

Parker: At the police station, yes, sir.

Mulder: You were put in a – what – an interrogation room?

Parker: We were in rooms they use for interviews there, yes.

Mulder: Okay. Did it have a two-way mirror?

Parker: No. I asked them if they had a room that had a recording device, a camera or a mirror that we could use. They had none available.

Mulder: Didn’t have anything available?

Parker: No, sir.

Mulder: When did you ask them about that, Mr. Parker?

Parker: The night I talked to her.

Mulder: Okay.

Parker: The night she was arrested.

Mulder: Had you decided to interrogate her before that day?

Parker: Yes, sir.

Mulder: Had you decided on the 16th or 17th or what?

Parker: Probably the 17th. It was the day before she was arrested.

Mulder: Okay. And, of course, like you say, the sheriff is cooperative. That could have been done at the sheriff’s office, couldn’t it, interview?

Parker: It could have been, I suppose.

Another element of the interview which gives pause to the veracity of Parker’s testimony was that he took no notes of the interview:

Mulder: Okay. Did you make any notes, Mr. Parker, during your interrogation?

Parker: No, I did not.

Mulder: Okay. Did you make any report after you had concluded your interview?

Parker: No.

So, for all intents and purposes, there is no evidence whatsoever that Parker’s recollection of the interview is in any way factual. Moreover, it wasn’t the first time that the Rowlett PD had failed to document crucial aspects of this case. At the conclusion of Parker’s interview, Darlie was formally arrested and charged with two counts of capital murder.

Evidence

One piece of evidence which the prosecution seemed unable to logically explain, was the sock found 75 yards away in an alley at the rear of the Routier home. It was found by Sgt. Thomas Ward whilst conducting a search of the alley with Officer Steve Ferrie at around 4 a.m. on June 6.

At trial, Sgt. Ward testified that during his search of the alley he saw no signs of blood in the area, other than that “the size of an elongated nickel” on the sock itself. Testing of the sock determined the blood was that of Devon and Damon, not Darlie.

If, as the prosecution alleged, Darlie had staged the crime scene, it is implausible that she could have run down the alley, deposited the sock and returned to the home without leaving traces of blood from her wounds (or bloodied bare feet) somewhere in the area.

In his opening statement, defense attorney Richard Mosty posited “somehow this doting mother, turned psychotic killer, went and dipped, just ever so slightly, an amount of her children’s blood in that sock and then ran 75 yards down the alleyway, and planted it, while her husband is upstairs asleep”.

More information on blood evidence and the testimony of Tom Bevel, an expert for the State, may be found here.

To suggest that the prosecution acted unethically and failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, would only serve to understate their impropriety.

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