Darlie Lynn Peck Routier is a woman who has been on death row in Texas since 1997 for the murder of her five-year-old son Damon. She has also been charged with the murder of her six-year-old son Devon, who was killed in the same attack but has not faced trial for his death. Routier has always maintained her innocence and claimed that an unknown intruder broke into her home and stabbed her and her children. Her case has been the subject of serious controversy, debate, and media attention for over two decades.
Routier was born on January 4, 1970, in Altoona, Pennsylvania. She married Darin Routier in 1988 when she was 18 and he was 20. They moved to Rowlett, Texas, in 1991, and had three sons: Devon, Damon, and Drake. Darin worked as a computer consultant, while Darlie was a stay-at-home mother.
The Routiers lived in a two-story brick house in a middle-class neighborhood. They enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle, with expensive cars, jewelry, and vacations. However, by 1996, the Routiers were facing financial difficulties, as Darin's business was struggling and they had accumulated debts of over $10,000.
On June 6, 1996, at 2:31 a.m., Routier called 911 and reported that an intruder had broken into her home and stabbed her and her children. She said that she had fallen asleep on the couch in the living room, while her two older sons slept on the floor next to her.
Her husband and youngest son were upstairs in the master bedroom. She said that she woke up to see a man standing over her with a knife and that he ran away when she confronted him.
She said that she picked up the knife that he had dropped and placed it on the kitchen counter, before realizing that she and her children had been wounded. She said that she screamed for her husband, who came downstairs and helped her call 911.
The police arrived within three minutes of the call and found a bloody scene. Devon and Damon had been stabbed multiple times in the chest, back, and abdomen. Devon was already dead, while Damon was still alive but barely breathing.
Routier had a slash wound on her neck, which came within two millimeters of her carotid artery, and several cuts and bruises on her arms and hands. She was taken to the hospital, where she underwent surgery and received stitches. Damon died shortly after arriving at the hospital. Drake, the baby, was unharmed.
The police searched the house and the surrounding area for evidence of the intruder. They found a window screen in the garage that had been cut, which they assumed was the entry point. They also found a bloody sock in an alley behind the house, about 75 yards away from the back door. The sock had blood from both Devon and Damon on it. The police did not find any fingerprints, DNA, or footprints from the intruder, nor did they find any signs of forced entry or theft.
The police also noticed several inconsistencies and discrepancies in Routier's story and behavior. They observed that the crime scene appeared to have been staged, as there was no blood or signs of a struggle in the utility room where Routier said the intruder dropped the knife. They also found that the knife, which came from the Routiers' kitchen, had fibers from the screen on it, suggesting that the screen had been cut from the inside.
They also found that Routier's wounds were superficial and inconsistent with a life-threatening attack and that some of them could have been self-inflicted. They also questioned why Routier did not wake up when her children were being stabbed, and why she did not notice that they were injured until after she chased the intruder away.
The police also found evidence of the Routiers' financial problems, such as unpaid bills, bounced checks, and pawned jewelry. They also learned that the Routiers had recently increased the life insurance policies on their children from $5,000 to $10,000 each. They also discovered that Routier had been suffering from postpartum depression and had been unhappy with her marriage and her role as a mother. They also obtained a video of Routier at her son's grave, spraying silly string and laughing, which they interpreted as a sign of her lack of remorse and guilt.
This is the clip of Darlie Lynn Peck Routier at her son's grave, spraying silly string and laughing
Based on this evidence, the police arrested Routier on June 18, 1996, and charged her with two counts of capital murder. She was held without bail at the Dallas County Jail.
Routier's trial began on January 6, 1997, in Kerrville, Texas, after a change of venue was granted due to the extensive media coverage of the case. The prosecution was led by Greg Davis and Toby Shook, while the defense was led by Doug Mulder and Richard Mosty. The jury consisted of eight women and four men.
The prosecution presented the evidence that they had collected from the crime scene, the hospital, and the Routiers' home. They argued that Routier had staged the break-in, killed her children, and wounded herself to cover up her crime. They claimed that she had a motive for financial gain, as well as a desire to escape from her responsibilities as a mother and wife.
They also showed the jury the video of Routier at the cemetery, which they said demonstrated her lack of emotion and empathy. They also called several witnesses, including police officers, forensic experts, doctors, neighbors, and friends, who testified about the inconsistencies in Routier's story, the nature of her injuries, the condition of the crime scene, and her behavior before and after the murders.
The defense challenged the prosecution's theory and evidence and argued that Routier was innocent and a victim of a brutal attack by an unknown intruder. They claimed that the police had botched the investigation, contaminated the crime scene, and ignored or overlooked alternative suspects and evidence. They also argued that Routier had no reason to kill her children, whom she loved and cared for, and that she was a devoted and loving mother and wife. They also showed the jury another video of Routier at the cemetery, which they said showed her grief and sorrow. They also called several witnesses, including Routier herself, who testified about her love for her children, her alibi, her injuries, and her encounter with the intruder.
On February 1, 1997, after seven hours of deliberation, the jury found Routier guilty of the murder of Damon. She was not tried for the murder of Devon, as the prosecution decided to hold the charge in case of a reversal on appeal. On February 4, 1997, after three hours of deliberation, the jury sentenced Routier to death by lethal injection. She was transferred to the Mountain View Unit in Gatesville, Texas, where she remains on death row.
Routier has appealed her conviction and sentence several times, both at the state and federal levels. She has raised various issues and claims, such as ineffective assistance of counsel, prosecutorial misconduct, juror misconduct, false or misleading testimony, suppression of exculpatory evidence, violation of due process, and actual innocence. She has also requested new DNA testing on several items of evidence, such as the knife, the sock, the screen, and her nightshirt, which she hopes will prove her innocence and identify the intruder.
However, most of her appeals have been denied or dismissed by the courts, and her conviction and sentence have been upheld. As of 2022, she is still awaiting the results of the latest DNA testing, which was ordered in 2018 and 2019, after new technology became available. She is also awaiting a ruling from the federal district court on her habeas corpus petition, which was filed in 2010.
Routier's case has attracted the attention and support of many advocates, activists, and organizations, who believe that she is innocent and wrongfully convicted. They have argued that the evidence against her is weak, circumstantial, and unreliable and that the evidence in her favor is strong, credible, and compelling.
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They have also argued that she was a victim of a biased and flawed investigation, prosecution, and trial and that she deserves a new and fair trial. They have also pointed out the inconsistencies and contradictions in the prosecution's theory, and the lack of a clear motive, confession, or witness.
They have also cited new evidence and witnesses that have emerged over the years, such as a fingerprint that does not match anyone in the Routier family, a statement from a nurse who said that Routier's neck wound was life-threatening, and a testimony from a man who said that he saw a suspicious car near the Routier house on the night of the murders.