Darlie Routier

This is a case that I have resisted blogging about for a few reasons. One is that it is over 20 years old but still fiercely debated.  I know going into this that more than most of the cases I talk about here, there may be a large debate ahead, that may lead to arguments among readers. Know going in that I approve all comments made prior to them being posted so if you comment and you do not see it please do not send another one saying how bias I am and how I do not allow comments that do not agree with me.  Yes, this has happened in cases before. Also know that I approve almost all comments but I do not approve spam or comments that contain personal information that I do not feel is appropriate to post.  I do not mind debating or even arguing but I do not tolerate name calling or posts filled will extreme cursing and belittlement.  

As I saw this was the next case in my list there was a twinge in me that wanted to continue to skip it once more, just as I have for the last five years that I have had this blog every time I saw it on the list.  But, I do think it is an interesting case and I wanted to see if there has been anything recent that I had not heard.  But, I ended up with the problem that I knew I would have.  Too much information in the basis of opinions.  Even a lot of the newspaper articles conflict each other or are argued about later. The first few hours worth of research led me from one place to check the validity to another place to check some more facts.  I skipped many sites just because I knew just by the tag line that it would be overly bias either for or against her and that is not what I do here, at least not in the beginning.  I work with the facts.  I decided to revise my search because I had yet found actual appeal papers which do deal just with facts and summarize trials.  In all the years, and all of the appeals that have been filed I was only able to find one that was filed in 2003 and it ended up being one of the few that I have seen that did not go through the summery of the crime or the trial.  That is not to say that the appeal had no information because it did clarify something I had come across in my other research.

One of the strangest things about this case is that although both Damon and Devon Routier were murdered at the same time the state of Texas decided only to try Darlie for the murder of five year old Damon. Although nothing stated the reason specifically I gander to guess that they did so in the event that the prosecutors failed to gain a conviction or something were to happen to that case.  It would then leave them the option to try her for six year old Devon's murder.  In my opinion that would be bordering a line so close to double jeopardy and misconduct that I am not sure it would have been successful.  During her trial for Damon's death they of course talked about Devon and what had happened to him and so while she was not charged with Devon's murder the case against her for him was laid out.  If the prosecution would have failed in getting a conviction and then decided to try her for Devon's murder it would be the exact same case as they had presented, only that time they would have known where they had messed up the first time.  

In the late night of June 6, 1996 Darlie Routier called the 9-1-1 from her Rowlett Texas home to report that an intruder had entered her home and attacked her and her two oldest children.  Darlie's husband, Darin and seven month old son Drake were said to have been upstairs during the attack and were unharmed.  There has been a dispute as to where Darin Routier was by the time the police arrived on the scene. Some say that he was outside the home and that prior to their arrival he had been running down the street yelling that his wife and children had been attacked. Other reports state that he was inside the home attempting to help the boys.  

Once the outside of the home was checked and secured the officers and EMT's entered the home.  By the time they arrived six year old old Devon had already died, he had been stabbed several times.  Five year old Damon was alive when they arrived but died within just a few minutes.  He too had been stabbed several times.  Darlie seemed to have superficial wounds to the officers and definitely did not have injuries to the extent of her two children.  She had been stabbed in one of her arms and in her neck.  She had blood dripping everywhere.  

Officers would later say that the crime scene looked staged to them. Darlie had claimed to have seen the intruder go out the back door.  A window screen in the garage had been cut. Officers would report to the media that the screen appeared to have been cut from the inside while some reports state that in court it was conceded that this was not correct and had in fact been cut from the outside.  I cannot verify the latter information.  Keep in mind that with all of the years and the armchair detectives that are out there and really little more than some newspaper articles there seems to be information contradicting almost all other information. 

A knife would be found on the kitchen counter. Whether there was one knife or two seems to be in question.  It has been reported that a knife had some Plexiglas chips on it, supposedly consistent with the window that was cut.  Other reports state that a (or was it the same) knife was found with blood and that when tested it only held the DNA of Darlie and Damon.  Reports are that there was never a knife found that contained the DNA of Devon found in the home.  About seventy-five yards from the property, in an alley, a bloody sock was found and collected.  

One thing that I found interesting in the reports was the fact that investigators claim that there was a motion light in the backyard and that when they arrived on the scene the light was not on.  They claim that once activated the motion light remained on for a total of seventeen minutes and that since they arrived within seven minutes of Darlie's call and she had claimed the intruder had just left the home through the back door that the light should have still been on.  What I find interesting about this is that I have never heard of a motion light remaining on for a seventeen minutes.  This seems so unusual to me.  It is not that they were arguing that the light stayed on this long because someone was actually outside to keep it activated but that once activated it remained on that long when there was no more movement detected.  I am not saying that it is impossible to do, I just find it odd.  I should also point out that this was not a rural area but a housing addition in which homes were not far from each other so I would think there would have been neighbor complaints if someone's motion light remained on that long.  

Darlie would be taken to the hospital where her wounds would be treated.  The extent of her wounds seem to be highly disputed.  It was said that the wound to her neck came within 2 mm of cutting her carotid artery.  It is believed that a necklace that she was wearing may have prevented the weapon from going deeper into her neck. It has been said that the necklace had damage to it.  She would be released from the hospital after two days.  The doctors at the hospital apparently felt that it was possible that she had inflicted the wound to her neck herself.  Now, whether this came in as the context that they were certain that it could have been or was possible, no matter how improbable I cannot say.  It has been argued by supporters that the prosecution witnesses were rehearsed and highly led on what they were to say on the stand but I am uncertain as to the reality of those statements.  At her later trial the defense called a man who had been a chief medical examiner in San Antonio who said it was not consistent with a self inflicted wound.  

Another wound that Darlie suffered has been disputed for the last twenty years.  Today, on the Internet you can see pictures of Darlie's arm within a few days of the attack.  There is really no way to describe the bruising her arm suffered.  From nearly the armpit area down to the wrist on the inner side of her arm is a bruise that is more black than blue.  Supporters argue that these are defensive wounds and say it proves she was not the attacker.  Those who believe in Darlie's guilt in the deaths of her sons say she could have sustained those bruises in many ways.  They argue they could have been received as she was attacking her children and they repeatedly kicked her.  Some argue that it was determined earlier in the evening that Darlie and her husband Darin argued and he put those bruises on her.  Even more argue that there was no way that Darin could have slept through Darlie attacking their children and that he created the bruises on her arm as he was trying to stop her.  Apparently the picture of her arm was not shown to the jury and at least one juror has been quoted as saying that had they seen the picture they would not have voted to convict.  This is one of the many things that supporters have argued about Darlie's trial. I have to be honest in saying that when it comes to Darlie's guilt or innocence I am almost fully on the fence, however, I am always a proponent that a jury should see all evidence to make an informed decision.

Those of us who are into true crime obsessively likely know who Darlie is simply by her name and if you do not likely all it takes is two words to remind you..... Silly String.  Supporters say those two words are what convicted Darlie in the murder of her son.  So, lets talk about the silly string.  Nine days after the murders Devon Routier would have turned seven years old.  A lot of the research I came across indicates that the video that would be shown around the world was taken by a news station, and that could be true, but I have also heard that video was taken by investigators.  At any rate on Devon's birthday a group of family members gathered at the boys' graves.  They would all claim that on first arriving it was a solemn time in which a prayer was said and a vigil held.  It was later that a "party" of sorts was had to celebrate Devon's birthday.  It was then that  balloons were released and the silly string was brought out.  A video was taken of this time and was released to the media showing Darlie laughing and smiling while spraying the silly string.  In the eyes of the people this is what convinced people she was involved in the murders of her children. This video was shown to the jury.  There are those who argue that the time prior to this was not on video, hence why the jury did not see it but from everything that I know from the case this is not true.  It seems that the video is, and was, available of the earlier time but prosecutors only chose to show the latter part.   

One thing that bothered me about the articles about Darlie particularly when they spoke of the video with the silly string was the constant description of her appearance.  I saw not just one or two, but several articles in which a caption or a description was giving talking about her "bleached hair."  The way they were worded indicated that in the nine days since the murders of her children she had decided to go blond. If you see current pictures of Darlie from prison you know that she is not a blond.  But, if you look at pictures of Darlie taken from years before the murders, including in high school,  right up to the time of the murders you see her as blond. Now, granted, there are a few in which her roots are truly showing but the point that I am making here is that the media tended to portray her as a woman who had lost her children and decided to change her appearance and that is not true.  Darlie had colored her hair for years prior to the murders so the fact she had "bleached" hair nine days after the murder means absolutely nothing in my opinion.  If in fact she had her hair colored in the nine days after the murders I also do not find this so unusual.  I recently read the book written by one of the mothers of the Columbine murderers.  This was actually addressed.  She had wanted to look presentable at a memorial service/funeral of her son.  She had gone to get her hair done and did so after hours for a few reasons.  For one she was by no means ready to face the public after what had happened and for two she was certain that the media would portray her as superficial or uncaring if it was learned she had gone to a hair dresser.  And really for her it was one thing she could control as far as her appearance and at that point she needed that.  No one can say that was not the same issue for Darlie.

At any rate authorities decided to arrest Darlie for the murders just four days after the silly string video was taken and released to the media. She would stand trial in January of 1997 and be facing the death penalty.  There have been many arguments about her defense.  It has been said, although not sure completely proven by facts, that her attorney, who had a total of six months to prepare for a capital murder case, had been hired by Darin, her husband.  This in and of itself is not obviously unusual but it has also been alleged that Darin and the attorney had an agreement that at no time throughout the defense would they implicate that Darin could have been involved.  Supporters argue that this was unethical and a conflict of interest.  They have also argued several issues that were not brought up in the trial that could have brought reasonable doubt to the jury as to Darin's involvement.

The prosecutors portrayed Darlie as a materialist woman and stated that she and her husband were in a mountain of debt.  Darin ran an electronic business that in the early to mid 1990s had been very successful.  They claim that at the time of the murder the business was beginning to fail, that the couple was $10,000 behind in taxes and over $12,000 in credit card debt.  They would apparently show evidence that the month prior to the murders that she had talked about suicide and written about it in a diary.  My only issue with this is that I did not see or even truly hear exactly what she had written or said and unsure that it was a legitimate thought.  What I mean by this is that people say things like "I could just die" or phrase of such and it is not something they truly mean or would ever act on.  To add to this I never saw any evidence that anyone indicated that Darlie was abusive or even spoke negative of her children, let alone even in the context of suicide discuss "taking" them with her.  While they argued that the couple had financial difficulties they indicated that the motive behind the murder was more to be free of her children, and in fairness there was no evidence that this was something ever expressed.  Supporters dispute this claim pointing out that the youngest child, seven month old Drake was left unharmed so Darlie would still have had a child to raise and not be free to do as she pleased as the prosecution would indicate was the motive. There was also no talk of the children having any kind of life insurance that would have enabled the couple to pay off their debt.

On the other side of this however supporters claim that it was not Darlie, but Darin who had been materialist (in fairness it is my belief that they both were to an extent).  They claim that it was Darin who had bought the elaborate home the couple owned as well as a cabin boat and an expensive car.  Darlie was portrayed as the cookie baking, stay at home mom devoted to her children.  I suspect that description was likely laid on a little thicker than reality.  

As stated before the jury was not shown the picture of Darlie's bruised arm or the extended version of the video taken at the cemetery. But, others argue they also did not hear things that could have questioned whether it was not Darlie, but Darin who had been the perpetrator. They claim that this was per the agreement that the attorney's had made with him that were representing her.  One of the first questions about Darin was where he actually was when officers arrived on the scene.  Was he inside or was he out?  It was reported that he had told officers that he did not know his wife had been stabbed until much after the attack, maybe even not before they arrived but witnesses say he was outside yelling that his wife and children had been attacked.  The closest it seems that Darlie's attorney pressed Darin in court had to do with his claim that the first thing he remembered seeing when he came downstairs was their glass coffee table flipped over (and possibly on top of one of the children).  Crime scene photos show that the coffee table looked to have shifted but not tipped over and a flower pot was still on the table.  When Darin made this claim in court it seems Darlie's attorney gave him the opportunity to change his story but he did not.

Others state there were other reasons to suspect Darin, or at the very least have the jury hear things to established reasonable doubt, something that is vital to a trial.  It is claimed that Darin had admitted to speaking to a man about breaking into their home to take things. The plan was apparently ready to take effect and was to do so supposedly at a time in which no one was home.  It seems that this was to be done so that an insurance claim could be filed to get some money.  This was never brought up at trial.  There are some that say Darlie did not know about the plan until much later, after her conviction, while others claim she did know about the plan.  Then there was an issue involving life insurance.  While I heard nothing about insurance on the children there were claims that there was life insurance on Darlie.  The amount of that (or those) policy varied in their amounts from anywhere from $250,000 to $500,000.  It is argued by some, with good points, that Darin had more of a motive to kill his wife, or have her killed, than either of them had to murder their children.  Darin would say that when he first saw Darlie she was at the bottom of the stairs as he came down.  The evidence does not support this.  The fact that she was bleeding profusely from her neck and arm would indicate there would have been blood there when in fact it was reported that there was not.  On top of this had Darlie been at the bottom of the stairs as he came out there would be no question of him knowing she had injuries.

In fairness Darin, along with at least Darlie's family members, have supported Darlie's innocence for years and continue to do so.  Whether Darin is guilty or not, the issue for me is a bit moot.  Soon after Darlie's arrest the State of Texas removed 7 month old Drake from the home. The reason behind it seemed vague.  He was placed in the care of Darin's parents and he received visitation. It seems that he never regained custody of him, or maybe he never attempted.  Many claim that the reason the state took Drake from the home was because Darin supported his wife's innocence but to be fair I cannot say this is the true reason.  

On February 4, 1997 Darlie Routier was found guilty in the murder of her son, Damon.  She was sentenced to death.  Twenty years later not only has she not been executed, but her case is still in continual appeals and of much argument among even the general public.  Over the years one of the biggest arguments have come from attempting to get more advanced DNA testing done.  For many years the requests were denied but in 2014 the defense was allowed to have testing done on a bloody fingerprint found in the home, the bloody sock found in the alley and Darlie's nightgown.  They wanted more but this was all they were allowed and apparently the defense was required to pay for it from my understanding.  Seemingly either it has still not been done or the results have not been released which lead those who believe in her guilt to believe the results were unfavorable to Darlie.

So, let's look at both sides and what each side has to say about her guilt or innocence.  Let's start with those who say she's guilty.....

Those who believe in Darlie's guilt say that it makes no sense that an intruder would come in and attack the children in the vicious way that they were murdered and not attack Darlie in the same manner.  These are the people who wholly believe that she inflicted the injury on herself.  Although I do admit there are those out there that believe it is possible that Darin was either in on the planning or at the very least created the stab wounds on her and then helped her cover up her role. It seems that for most who believe in her guilt they believe all the evidence points to Darlie being the perpetrator and that, just as the prosecutor proclaimed the scene was staged and it was done to rid her of her children.

For those who believe she is innocent there is an overwhelming belief that Darin was either the perpetrator, or that he had someone come in and do it. It seems that very few believe that the "intruder" was just someone random if in fact there was an intruder.  More than that people that believe she is innocent point to many factors that were wrong with the trial.  I have discussed some here in which there were things the jury was not shown and things her attorney did not bring into the court that people believe they should have.  However, there are other issues that I have not mentioned.  It was said, and I can only go with what I could find, that when the officers involved in the case were cross examined by the defense that they often pleaded the 5th Amendment. If this is a true statement supporters point out there should be no reason for an officer to take the 5th in cases in which they work. It had been argued that the prosecution witnesses were highly rehearsed and well versed for their direct testimony.  

Another huge issue, that was actually brought up in Darlie's 2003 appeal was the issue of the court reporter.  It was argued, and apparently proven that the court reporter did not adequately transcribe the trial.  This brought issues with points of read-backs in the trial, as well as having accurate information in appeals.  The court reporter was bought in and long hearings were held in 1999.  She had been required to bring in her notes and any tapes she had of the proceedings. Strangely she would first tell the court that she only had audio recording pertaining to the jury selection but several months later would find tapes of the rest of the trial.  At some point she had proclaimed to have brought them all but the person who had been assigned to go through them realized a few were missing and the court reporter found those and turned them in.  There seems to be little doubt that the argument made by the defense was valid, however it seems despite that the appeals court found the error to be inconsequential to the jury ruling.

Supporters also argue that the prosecutor from the trial, Greg Davis, was indicted in 2010 with a charge of "tampering with government records."  To be fair here, this indictment did exist for a period of less than a month before it was dismissed, and it had nothing to do not only with this case, but it had nothing to do with any case that had been handled.  The indictment had to do with an investigation into the county clerk's office in which Davis was head of.  Earlier in 2010 six employees of the clerks office had been indicted on felony charges of falsifying records. Now, on the surface this all sounds bad, and not that it was good, but again, none of it had to do with Darlie or any other defendant. It seems this case was solely based on these members falsifying employment times and records.  But as we all know rarely do people dig really deep to find answers to things that they read and so just to say the prosecutor had been indicted for "tampering with government records" sounds like he is just a very crooked man.  Let me state here that while I disagree with the inclusion of discussion of this indictment without the full story in things associated with Darlie, it does not necessarily mean that I feel the trial was fair.

So... is she guilty of murdering her children?  The state of Texas thinks so. But to be fair Texas also has a very high rate of exonerations to the point that there were committees and groups formed to examine cases prosecuted after a large amount of individuals were found to be falsely convicted.  And again, in all fairness Texas is the one state that I do believe it can be nearly proven to have executed an innocent man (ie Todd Willingham).  All of this however, does not mean that Darlie is innocent, but it does not mean she is guilty either.

As far as receiving a fair and impartial trial I have to agree with her supporters.  I believe the jury should have seen the pictures of all of her injuries.  I believe they should have heard all the evidence against both parents and not just Darlie.  In fact, while I am unsure if the jury was made aware or not, it appears that no forensics what so ever were made from Darin.  It was said he had blood on his clothing and body but had been allowed to go to a neighbors home to change clothes and wash up, never having his clothes collected.  I surely believe that the jury should have seen the entire video at the cemetery and not just the portion that made Darlie look bad.  I do believe the press persecuted her and made unwarranted and unsavory comments about her and I am not talking about people commenting online or even on the street.  I am talking strictly about wording and captions in articles written about the case both before and after her arrest and conviction. Also as far as the trial goes I do not believe that she was adequately represented if all the things pertaining to Darin were not presented also.

Do I believe an intruder came into the home?  I don't know.  What I can say is that I do not believe that the motion sensor outside is a measure of anything.  It has been said, although I have to say I do not know if this is to be true, that there were unknown fingerprints and DNA found in the home that could not be compared to anyone in the home.  It has also been said there were several things that were never tested for DNA. It was determined, or at least thought to be determined that a knife from the kitchen had been used in the crime... at least against Damon and Darlie as their DNA was found.  Supporters say that the knife, nor any other knife or weapon in the home had Devon's DNA on it indicating that it was never found and could have been taken by the so called intruder.  But remember, she was not prosecuted for Devon's murder. Although lets be fair, no one has ever said that Darlie killed one but not the other.  

I must admit that one of the biggest things that bother me in saying that Darlie is guilty is the condition of her arm after the murders.  Now, it could be as some have argued that these injuries could have come from her children kicking her as she was murdering them.  And, in fairness that could be true.  Others argue that they are "clearly" defensive wounds of fighting off someone.  And, again in fairness, this could also be true.  The other point that bothers me is that there really seemed to be not only no true motive that made sense, nor had there been a history of anything that would have pointed to this.  Again, there was no mention of life insurance.  What did Darlie really gain by killing two of her three children?  She still has a child that needs cared for.  In fact, it is the youngest child who cannot even walk yet or even feed themselves properly.  Why would she kill the children she had to care for less?  Why would she not just kill all of her children if she did not want the burden of them?  Some argue that she did it to get back at Darin because they had argued earlier and had discussed separating.   It had already been argued that when it came to the child rearing Darin did very little so it is not like had they separated she was stuck caring for the children, she already was, and there were no reports of complaints about it, at least as far as the children were concerned.  

It is my opinion that if Darlie is in fact guilty then at the very least Darin knows now and knew it then.  Whether he was involved in a plan of some sort or caught her in the act I cannot say.  There are those that believe since he was the one outside prior to the police coming that he was the one to place the sock in the alley.  I do not know who's sock it was and the only indications I found was that the boys' blood was on it, as far as other DNA I am unsure.  If it was a sock from the home even if Darlie's DNA was on it that would not convince me of her guilt.  She did the bulk of the family laundry and would have touched it.  If Darin's was found it would not necessarily prove to me he was involved, but it would make me question more.  Of course he lived in the home and there is the opportunity for transfer DNA, or for all I know it was his sock.  But no one claims to have seen Darlie outside the home around the time of the murders, nor were there reports of a blood trail to the alley (then again one could argue that she stabbed herself after planting the sock) so that would indicate or point more to an intruder as she said or Darin placing it there.  If no other DNA is found leading to a stranger then one has to ask how it got there.  

There are those that have argued that she has been on death row for 20 years and it is time to end the "games" and carry out her sentence.  I disagree.  I have often said I am neither a proponent for or against the death penalty but I think it should be reserved only for those cases in which there is no question at all of guilt.  I think there are too many here to say with certainty.  Let us not forget that I have even in recent weeks blogged of cases of people who have served more time than she had being set free and exonerated.  I am not saying that this would ever happen here but I am saying that just because she has been in prison for twenty years it does not mean nothing could happen in her case.

Comments

  1. So very much incorrect and missing information regarding Devon and Damons murder by their mother. I'll gather the factual information and send it to you for you to review, then you can post or edit and add what you would like.

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  2. I am by no means a Darlie Death Monger. I got into this out of concern she might BE innocent. I agree with the previous poster. Read from the official transcripts as there is entirely too much misinformation out there. I don't want Darlie to die. I don't think anyone else killed her kids though. I believe Darlie still needed Drake to keep Darin and his income bound to her so it would make sense she would keep the baby. Sort of a fresh start as it were. People can snap when confronted with more than they have the resources to deal with. The transcript clerical mistakes notwithstanding and that is a technical issue absolutely not one thing points to an intruder. I didn't see anything in your post about the current DNA results and wonder what your thoughts are about that. Although the records are now sealed to a point they can be assessed through public channels. Depression and despair seem worse in the darkest part of the night. In the darkest part of 6/6/96 something awful was the result.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I sent them to the blogger but they haven't been posted here yet. Check out the fb page "Justice For Devon And Damon". At the top of the page click on "files". Everything you want to read on this case in there. Including the latest DNA.

      Delete
  3. The jury was shown all of the photographs and her bruises were discussed in depth during the trial. One juror, an old timer to put it nicely, claims that he did not see it, however I do not see any other juror coming forward and stating otherwise. If anything, this juror's memory is questionable.

    ReplyDelete
  4. DNA does not lie mate .shes the only liar an she got caught out . Explain the blood over her that were her kids an explain why she thought she was smart to tell the operator she picked up the knife cause there was no over fingerprints on that knife except hers .. her story was changed cause the Dna u cannot defeat. . She needs to be put to death like she did to her kids. .

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