Convicted Child Killer Darlie Routier: Guilty or Railroaded?

Darlie Routier in court

Associated Press

Darlie Routier is on death row in Texas, convicted of the murder of one of her two sons, Devon and Damon Routier, who were killed in the early morning of June 6, 1996. The media coverage of the murder investigation depicted Routier as another psychopath or heartless mother whose children were getting in the way of her lifestyle, so she killed them for money.

That's also how books such as "Precious Angels" by Barbara Davis, and the prosecutors at her trial portrayed Darlie Routier. Most found it believable in the aftermath of the Susan Smith case two years earlier.

Since her conviction, Darlie and her family have learned a whole lot more about the legal system and have presented a far different picture than was originally shown by the press. Even Barbara Davis changed her mind about the case and added a chapter to her book disputing the prosecutor's case.

Read both sides and decide for yourself if this young woman is the she-devil portrayed by the prosecutors and press, or a woman naive of the inner workings of the legal system.

Darlie and Darin Routier

Darlie and Darin Routier were high-school sweethearts who married in August 1988, after Darlie completed high school. By 1989, they had their first boy, Devon Rush, and in 1991, Damon Christian, their second son was born

As their family grew, so did Darin's computer-related business and the family moved to an affluent area known as Dalrock Heights Addition in Rowlett, Texas. Life was going well for the Routiers and they celebrated their successes by surrounding themselves with expensive items such as a new Jaguar, a cabin cruiser, lush furnishings, jewelry, and clothing.

After a few years of living an affluent lifestyle, Darin's business began to falter and with it came financial problems for the couple. Rumors began that the couple's relationship was in trouble and there was talk of extramarital affairs. Friends said Darlie, obsessed with her appearance, reportedly had little patience for the children. Despite the rumors, on October 18, 1995, the couple had their third son Drake, after which Darlie experienced postpartum depression.

Desperate to lose the weight she had gained during pregnancy she began taking diet pills which failed to help and contributed to her mood swings. She confided to Darin about having suicidal thoughts and the two began talking and reviewing their future. Things were looking fixable for the young couple. But with this hopeful period was cut short by a tragedy that no one could have predicted. 

The Murder of Devon and Damon

Around 2:30 in the morning on June 6, 1996, the Rowlett Police received an emergency call from the Routier home. Darlie was screaming that she and her two boys had been stabbed by an intruder and her boys were dying. Darin Routier, awakened by the Darlie's screams, ran down the stairs into the family room, where just hours before he had left his wife and two sons lying by the television. Now, as he entered, all he saw was the blood-soaked bodies of his two sons and his wife.

Darin tried to save Devon, who was not breathing. As reported by Barbara Davis, "Torn between two sons, the horrified father momentarily panicked, then made the decision to begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation on the son who was not breathing. Darin placed his hand over Devon's nose and breathed into his child's mouth. Blood sprayed back onto the father's face." Damon, with deep gashes in his chest, struggled for air.

The house filled with paramedics and police. The paramedics began trying to save the children as the police searched the home for the intruder who Darlie said had run in the direction of the attached garage. Policeman David Waddell and Sergeant Matthew Walling noted a bloody knife on the kitchen counter, Darlie's purse and expensive jewelry lying near it, a slash in the screen of a window in the garage, and splattered blood on the floor.

The medics were unable to save either child. The knife thrusts left deep gashes in the boys' chests and punctured their lungs. Gasping for air, they both suffered horrible deaths. Darlie's wounds—more superficial and not life-threatening—were temporarily patched up while Darlie told the police of the horrific events that unfolded just an hour earlier.

Darlie Routier stood on her porch in her blood-soaked nightgown and told the police what she remembered about the attack that had just occurred to her and her two sons.

She said that an intruder had entered their home and "mounted" her while she slept. When she woke up, she screamed and fought with him, fighting off his blows. She said he then fled toward the garage and that was when she noticed her two sons who were covered in blood. She said she had heard nothing while they were being attacked. She described the intruder as medium-to-tall height, dressed in a black T-shirt, black jeans, and a baseball cap.

Darlie and Darin were then taken to the hospital and the Rowlett Police Department seized the house and began their investigation.

Within 11 days of the murder of Devon and Damon, the Rowlett Police Department arrested Darlie Routier, charging her with capital murder of her sons.

The prosecutor’s case against Darlie was presented with these key issues:

  • Coroner Janice Townsend-Parchman testified that the boys' wounds were savage and deep, but described Darlie's as hesitation wounds, possibly self-inflicted.
  • Paramedic Larry Byford said Darlie never asked about the condition of her children when she was in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.
  • Charles Hamilton, a fingerprint expert who examined the scene, said that the only prints found belonged to Darlie and her children.
  • Tom Bevel, a blood expert, testified that the blood on Darlie's nightshirt belonged to her sons. It had been sprayed on her and he suggested that this could happen as she raised her arms upward in a stabbing motion.
  • Nurses from the hospital testified that Darlie did not demonstrate grief towards the loss of her sons. They claimed she seemed more concerned with making a point to say she picked up the knife off the kitchen floor, which put her prints on the knife.
  • Also mentioned was the blood found under a vacuum cleaner and blood spots on the cleaner itself, indicating that the vacuum cleaner had been placed there after the crime was committed.
  • Charles Linch, a trace-evidence expert, said it was impossible for an intruder to leave that scene without a trail of blood. There was no blood found outside the Routier home.
  • FBI's special agent Al Brantley testified that the window screen that was cut could have merely been removed by an intruder. Also that Darlie's expensive jewelry had been left untouched, discounting robbery as a motive. As to the motive being rape, he said that a rapist would have used her children as leverage to get her to submit, not killed them. And finally, he addressed the savagery of the stabbing of the boys and said that in his opinion, it was a personal attack done with extreme anger, not by a stranger.

Darlie took the stand against the advice of her counsel. They asked her why she told different versions of the story to different policemen. They asked about her dog, which barks at strangers but didn't bark when the intruder entered her home. They asked her why her kitchen was cleaned but under testing showed remnants of blood all over. To most of the questions, Darlie answered that she didn't remember or didn't know.

The jury found Darlie Routier guilty of the murder and sentenced her to death.

The prosecution's case against Darlie Routier was circumstantial and based on experts who theorized about evidence collected or viewed at the crime scene. The prosecution did what it set out to do, which was to get the jury to find Darlie guilty of murder, but was all the evidence shown to the jury? If not, why wasn't it?

Websites that support Darlie Routier's appeal list many issues and facts that have come to light after her trial that, if true, would appear to provide enough evidence that a new trial would be appropriate. Some of those issues include:

The attorney that represented Darlie Routier at trial had an apparent conflict of interest because he reportedly had a pre-arrangement with Darin Routier and other family members not to pursue any defense that could implicate Darin. This attorney allegedly stopped key experts for the defense from completing forensic examinations.

Other areas of concern which were never brought to the attention of the jury include the pictures of Darlie's cuts and bruises on her arms which were taken when she was hospitalized the night of the murders. At least one juror told reporters he would never have voted to convict if he had seen the photographs.

Bloody fingerprints have been found that do not belong to Darlie, Darin, the children or any of the police or other people in the Routier house the night of the murder. This contradicts testimony given during her trial that there were no fingerprints found outside the home.

Questions Her Defense Team Want to Be Answered

  • A bloody fingerprint was found on the living room table. Who does it belong to?
  • There was a bloody fingerprint on the door of the garage. Who does it belong to?
  • Darin Routier's jeans had blood on them. Whose blood is it?
  • A pubic hair was found in the Routier living room. Who does it belong to?
  • How did the blood on Darlie's nightshirt get there and whose is it?
  • Did the police get debris on the knife in the kitchen while investigating the murder or did it come from the screen door?

Darin Routier has admitted to trying to arrange an insurance scam, which included someone breaking into their home. He has admitted that he had begun the initial steps to arrange a break-in, but that it was to be done when no one was at home. No jury has heard this admission.

The incriminating Birthday Party film that was viewed by the jury showed Darlie dancing on the graves of her son along with other family members, but did not include the filming of the hours previous to that scene when Darlie sobbed and grieved over the graves with her husband Darin. Why was the additional footage not shown to the jury?

Neighbors reported seeing a black car sitting in front of the Routier home a week before the murders took place. Other neighbors reported seeing the same car leaving the area on the night of the murders. Were these reports investigated by police?

Investigators during her trial invoked their fifth amendment rights against self-incrimination during cross-examination, preventing the defense from rebutting their testimony. What did these investigators fear by being cross-examined?

There was some discussion about the police not protecting the evidence as they collected it which could have possibly damaged its origins. Did this really occur?

More Questions That Need Answers

  • The screen which investigators reported to the press as being cut from the inside was later proven in court to be cut from the outside.
  • When the paramedics arrived at the scene they said that Darin Routier was outside, but Darin was inside trying to save his children. Who was the man outside?
  • Was the testimony from the nurses in the hospital coached and rehearsed in mock trials by the prosecution prior to their testimony, as it has been reported?
  • The surgeon who operated on Darlie said that the cut in her neck was 2mm of the carotid sheath but was superficial to the carotid artery. The necklace she was wearing was damaged as a result of the wound but it also blocked the knife from going deeper into her neck. Did the jury get a clear understanding as to the seriousness of her wounds?
  • Was there an improper read-back of testimony to the jury by the court reporter, due to mistakes she made in the transcript?
  • The prosecution has reportedly refused to provide access to any evidence in their custody in the case. Why is it not readily available to all interested parties?
  • The advancements in DNA testing could put many of these questions to rest. Why is there such a reluctance to do the testing?
  • Some writers who have interviewed Darlie Routier have decided to help her fight to get a new trial. Since reporting their opinions on her situation, they report that their ability to visit her has been blocked or made so inconvenient that little can be accomplished.
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Your Citation
Montaldo, Charles. "Convicted Child Killer Darlie Routier: Guilty or Railroaded?" ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Montaldo, Charles. (2021, February 16). Convicted Child Killer Darlie Routier: Guilty or Railroaded? Retrieved from Montaldo, Charles. "Convicted Child Killer Darlie Routier: Guilty or Railroaded?" ThoughtCo. (accessed April 23, 2021).