Darlie Routier Revisited: Investigative JD Reporter Anne Good advances 20 Reasons to Consider That Routier is Innocent.
20 REASONS THAT THE CASE OF DARLIE ROUTIER JUST WON'T GO AWAY
By Anne Good
Three years have passed, and people are still talking about Darlie Routier, the thirty-year-old housewife and mother who was sentenced to death for the murder of her children. "Did Darlie do it?" is now a standard question in the state of Texas and for numerous Internet discussion groups. While the court of public opinion is fairly divided on the answer, one fact remains constant: this case is not going away. With interest growing to a national level, it seems like a good time to figure out "Why?"
The following ruminations, reflections, and queries are based on the belief that most of you may be familiar with Darlie Routier's case. I encourage any first time readers to check out our archives and read about this astonishing tragedy, which clearly showcases our judicial system at its worst moment.
The points presented here are not in any order of significance. This is just the tip of the iceberg, for there are many more points to be made. I did not even touch on the trial transcripts, explore Darlie as a person, the psychological factors that contributed to her conviction (Susan Smith haunted this investigation and trial), or on Greg Davis' mean-spirited attitude and blatant personal agenda. These are topics for future articles.
1) A significant but downplayed issue is that Darlie was never charged with Devon's death because the murder weapon was never recovered. The only weapon in existence is the knife from the Routier kitchen that contains Darlie and Damon's blood. There had to have been a second weapon. Where did this second weapon go? The prosecution never had to answer this question. This is consistent with Greg Davis' style -- if the evidence doesn't fit the theory, get rid of it. Dr. Janice Townsend-Parchman and Dr. Joni McClain, who performed the autopsies on Devon and Damon, testified that the large butcher knife found "could have" inflicted the wounds on both boys. They never mentioned that Devon's blood was not found on this knife.
2) The prosecution made a very big deal out of minor inconsistencies in Darlie's account of the events on June 6, 1996. However, her story has essentially stayed the same. If you research when and where these statements were made you will find two major points: a) They all were statements made minutes after she was released from the recovery room to the intensive care unit. Darlie was in no shape to be interrogated then. She was in shock, sedated, and seriously injured. It is important to note that Darlie wanted to talk to the police. She wanted to help in any way she could to find the person who did this to her family. In an ironic twist, Patsy Ramsey was highly criticized for not cooperating with the police. Darlie's cooperation, on the other hand, caused her to be indicted. b.) Any minor inconsistency seems to stem from the retelling of the interrogation by the detectives. No notes were ever taken. No immediate reports were ever produced at trial. The only notes produced were those made shortly before the trial began. Most people would be hard pressed to accurately recall a conversation that occurred months ago, without the benefit of notes. The basis for labeling her statements as inconsistent also relies completely on the Rowlett Police Department's truthfulness. In a case of this magnitude, it is highly suspect and, perhaps, convenient that no notes were taken. The detectives were free to testify to anything that would secure a conviction. It is also important to note that Darlie was a suspect 20 minutes after detectives arrived on the scene. When they questioned her, it was not to gather information to properly investigate this crime. It was done to build a case against her. There is a very big difference in the way questions are worded.
3) The significance of "The Silly String Tape" cannot be overlooked. The jurors viewed it eight times during deliberations. Most jurors said it was this tape that convinced them of her guilt. Ironically, they were not allowed to see the entire tape shot that day. The Rowlett Police Department had wired and taped the boy's burial site, hoping for a graveside confession. Unfortunately, they did so without following proper procedure. A judge ruled that the illegal tape would not be admissible in court. This tape shows a grieving mother, confused and in pain. A local news crew, not bound by procedure, filmed the spraying of the "silly string." This fifteen-second tape was shown to the jury. The entire graveside memorial was approximately two hours long and it included a solemn and tearful religious service. It was Devon's 7th birthday and his playmates were all present at the time the silly string was introduced. These children were having a difficult time understanding their little friend's death. Darlie and Darin both wanted to create an image for these children of Devon and Damon being happy in heaven. Darlie had to be told "to pull herself together." Darlie's sixteen-year-old sister, Dana, brought the silly string. Darlie knew nothing about it in advance. Devon loved silly string and was looking forward to having it at his birthday party. Motivated by love, Dana thought this would be a nice tribute. It was -- until Greg Davis fastened on it and distorted it for his own purpose.
4) The crime scene was severely contaminated. After closely reviewing new crime scene photos, I saw just how bad it was. With gross disregard for crime scene protocol, at least twenty paramedics and police officers trampled through the house before it was secured. The situation was wildly out of control. Key evidence is moved, blood is trampled on, bloody items are rolled up and put in brown paper grocery bags, and wet, bloody towels are left behind. The vacuum cleaner is moved all over the place and the pillow on which Darlie was lying disappears and reappears throughout the collection of photos. This is extremely significant because the placement of these items was used to "prove" that Darlie staged the crime scene.
5) Although approximately 1000 photos were taken, the defense only had access to approximately 400. The prosecution claims this is untrue. What does remain true, however, is the jury never saw the photos of Darlie's extensive wounds and bruising, for whatever reason. This is significant because the prosecution was able to successfully convince the jury that her wounds were not serious, thus, self-inflicted. Darlie had no medical background whatsoever. She didn't even know CPR. To self-inflict a throat slashing would be very dangerous business, indeed. In fact, her throat was slashed to within 2 mm of her carotid artery and instant death. It was so close that the sheath of her carotid artery was damaged.
a) Another observation about Darlie's wounds came to me shortly after I met her. The scars on her throat and arm are almost shocking to see and impossible to conceal. The prosecution claimed that her "vanity and self-centeredness" were part of her motive. They used the fact that her breast implants were not damaged to back up the "self-infliction" theory. Darlie frequently dressed in summer clothing, typical for Dallas heat. It is inconsistent to suggest that she would intentionally disfigure her body in a way that could not be easily concealed.
6) The "mulch" outside the window was not disturbed and a long "blonde hair" was found in the point of entry window screen. This concrete and highly damaging evidence was used to indict Darlie and deny bail. Outrageously, there was no mulch and the blonde hair belonged to a Rowlett Police Officer. The wrong window was described in court and the hair sample was confirmed through DNA. Can we seriously have faith in an investigation that cannot even identify the correct point of entry? What was this police officer doing with her head in the window screen, which was a key piece of evidence in a major crime scene? Gross incompetence or planted evidence? Either way, it doesn't speak well for the Rowlett Police.
7) The timeline is problematic. The state's own expert testified that Damon, who was still alive when the paramedics arrived, could not have lived any longer than 9 minutes. The 911 call lasts for 5 minutes and 44 seconds. Darlie is on the phone the entire time. The paramedics were held up for two minutes by police officers who were inspecting the house before allowing them in. This gives Darlie approximately 1 minute and 16 seconds to inflict her wounds, stage a crime scene, and plant the bloody sock 75 yards from the Routier home.
In an attempt to partially explain the conflict with the timeline, Barry Dickey, an audio forensic expert, said that Darlie was moving from room to room as she spoke to the 911 operator. The prosecution used this idea to suggest that she was cleaning up the blood by the sink and staging the crime scene as she spoke. Clearly, Darin is nearby. His voice is heard throughout the 911 call. If Darlie were staging the scene with Darin present, that would make him an accomplice, yet neither the Rowlett Police Department or the DA's office ever viewed him in that light -- in direct conflict with Barry Dickey's statements. A common sense explanation: Darlie was traumatized and seriously injured. She was what is commonly known as "freaking out." She was also running back and forth to get wet towels for Darin. Remember, neither one had any medical knowledge and were just doing what they thought was right. This is why Darlie's blood was all over the sink. The water dripping from the towels mixed with her blood to give the vague appearance of trying to "clean it up." There was also water on the floor in front of the sink and Darlie was seriously bleeding at this point. The more trips she made back and forth from the kitchen to the family room, the harder her heart was pumping, thus, the more blood. Police found the footprints with the use of luminol and used this to suggest she tried to "clean up evidence." The footprints found with the luminol are not surprising in light of what Darlie was doing at the sink. This is the origin of the theory that she slit her throat at the sink and tried to clean it up. Why would Darlie try to clean up a crime scene that looked like a blood bath? Why try to clean the sink when her blood was all over the kitchen floor in front of the sink? Look at the crime scene photos and apply common sense. Her footprints indicate she was running back and forth in the kitchen. This is completely consistent with Darlie getting wet towels to place on the boys. Several wet towels appear in photographs taken by the police. The towels are next to the boys and in the nearby hallway.
8) The police said there was no blood on the couch where Darlie claimed she was attacked. This is completely untrue and reveals the incredible level of incompetence of the RPD. Crime scene photos clearly reveal blood dripping down the side of the couch and an outline of where Darlie's pillow was located. The photos also show that pillow was moved all over the place after the police and paramedics arrived. There was blood on her pillow as well. Darlie would not have bled that much while she was lying down. Most of the blood would begin flowing as she got up and started moving around. Oddly enough, the police released the couch back to the family and it was cleaned up and sold at a garage sale to raise money for Darlie's defense. The family had no idea this was a key piece of evidence. No other evidence was released back to the family. I have come to believe that any evidence that did not back up the prosecution theory was dispensed with and labeled "unimportant."
9) Chadwick Ray Patterson, son of lead Detective Jimmy Patterson, has a long criminal record and a black car that fits the description of the car seen in front of the Routier residence several times in the weeks leading up to the murders. Patterson lived just a few blocks from the Routier home. An eyewitness testified that he saw the black car on the night of the murders and believed it to be a black Cutlass, the same type of car Chad Patterson drove. The car was pointed out to the police. Several different people in the neighborhood saw this car. The black car has never been fully investigated by the police department. There was no need; Darlie was targeted as the only suspect within minutes. Karen Neal, a neighbor of the Routiers, also says she saw the black car and the police never asked her any further questions about it. While Chad Patterson's involvement seems unlikely, the fear of his involvement could have been a factor motivating his father's decision not to follow up on this promising lead.
10) Retired detective Bill Parker was brought in to interrogate Darlie hours before her pre-planned arrest. Mr. Parker has quite a reputation for being able to extract a confession. A frequent comment about Detective Parker is, "If Bill Parker can't get a confession, the person probably isn't guilty." He is considered to be one of the "big guns." He spent over 3 hours trying to convince Darlie that she had murdered her children and didn't remember it. Darlie maintained her innocence. In court, Mr. Parker testified that Darlie had given what he would term a "confession." After hours of questioning, Darlie said something like, "If I did it, I certainly don't remember it ... and I think I would remember something like that." Mr. Parker claims he never audiotaped or videotaped this interrogation because "... he wasn't asked to." Some sources claim this interrogation was indeed video taped but it would have revealed that Parker was less than truthful. These types of interrogations are routinely taped to avoid later claims of coercion. It is difficult to believe it was not taped. Again, this is either gross ineptitude by the Rowlett Police Department or it is highly suspicious. Darlie was arrested immediately after the interrogation ended.
11) Darlie's nightshirt is a confusing piece of evidence. My research has revealed that there is a standard procedure to handle bloody clothing: the nightshirt should have been carefully cut off of Darlie and then hung up to air dry. This would preserve the integrity of any blood spatters. This was not done. Instead, her nightshirt was rolled up and placed in a bag with several other pieces of bloody clothing. The state first sent the nightshirt to the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences in Dallas. In an eight-page report it was stated that NONE of the boys' blood was found on her nightshirt. When this report was released to the press, the prosecution said that "... just because she stabbed the boys does not mean she would have blood on her nightshirt." This statement is mind-boggling. One of the key reasons they believed there was no intruder was because there was no trail of blood. If Darlie could kill her boys without getting any blood on herself, why couldn't an intruder do the same? By the time the trial took place, another lab had tested the nightshirt and found 4 small drops of the boys' blood, which the prosecution claims is consistent with blood dripping off the knife as she repeatedly raised it over her head to stab them. Mysteriously, Damon's blood is on top of Darlie's blood. Are we supposed to believe that anyone is capable of slitting her own throat and then muster the sustained energy required to stab two people to death? This defies all logic and known medical fact. Why did they have the nightshirt retested when a lab the state uses extensively already tested it? Could it be because the results from the first lab were not what they needed? Again, this seems consistent with a certain style: if the evidence doesn't fit the theory, get rid of it. Rowlett Police Officer David Maynes admitted he placed multiple bloody items in the same evidence bag instead of using separate bags. He also admitted it was sloppy police work.
12) The bloody sock was found within two hours after police arrived on the scene. It was 4 months before anyone else knew it existed. This is clearly exculpatory evidence. The DA's office was releasing all it could to the media about this case. Why was this held back? Because it didn't fit the prosecution's theory and it bolstered Darlie's claim of innocence? This was the most difficult obstacle for the prosecution to overcome at the trial. They overcame it with "silly string." They never answered the question of how the sock got there. They simply implied that it was part of the staging, even though this was physically impossible according to their own timeline and their own expert.
13) Private investigator and former FBI agent Lloyd Harrell stated that he has never seen a crime scene staged in which the accused did not use some portion of the staging in an alibi or defense. Think about it. If Darlie had staged this crime scene, why did she say she "didn't remember" and must have slept through it? It doesn't add up. If, as the prosecution contends, she staged the crime scene as she spoke to the 911 operator, why didn't she mention some of the staged elements? For example: if she took the time to knock over the glass coffee table, why didn't she say, "I think I remember fighting my attacker and knocking over the coffee table"? Common sense suggests that no one would choose a defense that basically says, "I slept through an attack that left my two children dead, my throat slashed, and I didn't get a good look at the man who did it." If Darlie had staged this and she was deliberately trying to fool the police, she didn't pick a wise strategy, did she?
14) A single fiberglass rod found on a bread knife in the kitchen was said to match those in the window screen. However, Charles Linch, who analyzed the fibers, said the rods were "similar in appearance" and "may have" been a match. The rods also may have matched the bristles from the brush the technicians used to test the knife for fingerprints. The same brush was used to dust the window and the knife. A single rod could easily have been transferred. Note: the rod was so small it was impossible for the defense to run a second test. Common sense urges us to ask why Darlie would choose a knife with a rounded tip to cut the window screen? She didn't have much time. This would have slowed things down even more and made a simple task much more difficult. Also, why use one knife to cut the screen and another to commit the murders?
15) Much was made of the fact that the dust on the windowsill in the alleged point of entry was not disturbed. The window was only 12 inches off the ground. A child could easily step over it without disturbing the dust. In fact, in a courtroom demonstration by the prosecution, a police officer stepped through the window several times without disturbing any dust on the sill.
16) Darlie suffered two major wounds: one slash across her throat in which her gold rope chain necklace became imbedded in her neck and had to be removed by a surgeon, and one stab wound to her right arm approximately 3 inches below the elbow. The knife wound on the arm went clear to the bone. Dr. Santos, the treating physician at Baylor Hospital, told Darlie's mother that this was a defensive wound and that Darlie almost died from her injuries. By the time he testified in court he called the wounds "superficial." Darlie is right handed.
17) There are two unidentified bloody fingerprints found at the crime scene. Records indicate that the chain of custody was broken on this evidence for 2 months. Where were these prints for two months? Once again, this is very sloppy police work or the prints were somewhere being tested. Perhaps the results did not match the prosecution's theory?
18) Several nurses testified in court that Darlie's behavior was not typical for a grieving mother. Notes taken by the same nurses directly contradict their testimony. The prosecution held a meeting with all medical personnel the day before they testified. Nurses testified, as planned, that Darlie showed very little emotion. One even said she was "whining," however, their hospital notes indicate that she showed plenty of emotion. Odd? Dr. Santos testified she did not show signs of typical grief yet he prescribed the tranquilizer Xanax for her shortly after surgery. I discussed this with two doctors and a nurse. All three say it is uncommon to prescribe a tranquilizer after surgery unless it is absolutely necessary.
19) A major flaw in this case is lack of motive. What would make a devoted wife and mother wake up in the middle of the night and savagely murder two of her three sons as they slept? If it was premeditated, she did a lousy job of it by staging a crime scene and then saying she didn't remember a thing. If it was because she felt overwhelmed by the demands of parenting, why kill the two older boys and leave the baby, the one who is the most demanding, alive? If it was because she needed money and saw her affluent lifestyle slipping away, why not kill Darin who was sound asleep and had an $800,000 life insurance policy? If it was because she was depressed, why not just commit suicide? If it was because she "snapped," where is the building process? Are we to believe that she made popcorn for her children, watched a family movie with them, fell asleep, woke up, snapped, savagely butchered her children, slit her throat and stabbed herself, beat her arms brutally with a blunt object, staged a crime scene, unsnapped, and called 911? Whew! This defies all logic.
20) Why would Darlie call 911 while Damon was still alive? She could not have known that he would die before he identified his attacker. He was still able to speak when she called Darin for help and dialed 911. The last words he spoke were to Darlie. Darin was present. She told him to "Hold on, baby, hold on." He looked at her and said, "OK, Mommy." The first officer arrived less than two minutes after the call was made. Damon died while the paramedics were attending to him.
The reason this case won't just go away is that it just screams reasonable doubt. People cannot stop talking about it because deep down inside they know something is wrong with the state's theory. Things just don't add up the way the way Greg Davis says they do. I hope the fundamental reason this case will not go away is because it frightens the astute reader that the state of Texas wants to strap Darlie Routier to a gurney and kill her based on this type of flimsy and deceitful evidence.
Maybe it is time to revive the defining maxim of the 60's -- "question authority." The truth IS out there. Sometimes it is not in what you see, but what you don't see.
© Justice Denied