Darlie Routier – Guilty or Innocent?

I watch forensic crime & murder documentaries compulsively. To the point where I have seen every available episode of 20/20, Dateline & 48 Hours Mystery & have to wait for the producers to make more episodes to satisfy my hunger for murder & mystery.

There are a handful of cases that have haunted me in that I am still unable to reconcile in my mind whether the accused was innocent or guilty. The case of Darlie Routier is one such case.

Darlie Routier – woman accused of killing her two children in a violent knife attack in her home. She currently sits on Texas’ death row.

Reasons I think she’s innocent: lack of a real motive. She showed signs of significant bruising along with knife wounds that at the very least required surgery – by some accounts just 2mm away from her carotid artery. Whilst she obviously had the opportunity to kill her children, why would someone do so whilst their husband is upstairs & not chose a time when he was away from home? For that matter why kill two out of three children? Darlie called 911 while one of her sons was still alive – she even tells him to ‘hold on’ during the 911 call. According to a doctor who studied Damon’s stab wounds, the boy could not have lived longer than nine minutes once he was first stabbed. Records show that Darlie was on the 911 call for five minutes and 44 seconds. Just as that call was ending, a police officer came inside the house, and he was there for at least a minute before the paramedics arrived. The paramedics found Damon still breathing; he died shortly thereafter. If you subtract from that nine minutes her five-minute-and-44-second phone call to 911, then subtract the additional minute and 10 seconds that she was in the presence of a police officer, Darlie had only 2 minutes 6 seconds from the moment she first stabbed Damon to complete the stabbing; go to the garage, step through the slit in the window screen, jump a back fence or go through a back gate, run barefoot for 75 yards down an alley, drop a bloody sock, run 75 yards back, stab herself, clean up the blood around the sink, and stage the rest of the crime scene. The couple underwent questioning without a lawyer being present. Greg Davis – the prosecutor – prosecuted 22 death penalty trials, failing only once to obtain the death penalty – in 2010 he was indicted in Collin County on record tampering charges. There was an attempted break-in at Mary Angelia Rickels home that same early morning of 6 June, 1996.

Reasons I think she’s guilty:

  • showed unusual appreciation for forensic (finger print) evidence in the midst of the 911 call – referring to them as ‘prints’ not ‘fingerprints’; behavior in the aftermath of the deaths was far from typical of a grieving mother.
  • The Mary Angelia Rickels break-in was only reported to police some 5 days after the event and murders – why?
  • On May 3, a month before the murders, Darlie made an unusual entry in her diary. “I hope that one day you will forgive me for what I am about to do,” she wrote. “My life has been such a hard fight for a long time, and I just can’t find the strength to keep fighting anymore.”
  • according to the first policeman on the scene, David Waddell, she was more concerned with her jewellery than her still alive but dying child metres away.
  • Screen debris was found on the bread knife from the Routier’s kitchen.
  • The murder weapon was a knife from her own home.
  • No cuts on Darlie’s feet, despite her claim of running through the kitchen several times, and at least twice in the dark – where the wine glass lay smashed.
  • Minor displacement of furniture – clumsy attempt to stage the crime scene.
  • The boys’ cast-off blood on the shoulder and back of her shirt.
  • No evidence of a knife being dropped on the utility room floor.
  • Despite being frantic about first responder arriving she had to be told repeatedly to open the door for the first officer on the scene:

04:54:07 911 Operator #1 …ok …listen ma’am …need to …need to let the officers in the front door …ok…
04:59:11 Darlie Routier …what…
05:00:04 911 Operator #1 …ma’am..
05:00:22 Darlie Routier …what …what…
05:01:15 911 Operator #1 …need to let the police officers in the front door…
05:04:21 Darlie Routier …(unintelligible) his knife was lying over there and I already picked it up…
05:08:19 911 Operator #1 …ok …it’s alright …it’s ok…
05:09:20 Darlie Routier …God …I bet if we could have gotten the prints maybe …maybe…
05:13:18 Police Officer …(unintelligible)…
05:14:18 RADIO …82 …we’ll be (unintelligible)…
05:17:12 Darlie Routier …ok …it’ll be…
05:18:08 911 Operator #1 …ma’am …hang on …hang on a second…
05:19:09 Darlie Routier …somebody who did it intentionally walked in here and did it Darin…
05:20:19 911 Operator #1 …82 …10-9…
05:21:23 RADIO …(unintelligible)…
05:22:28 911 Operator #1 …received…
05:23:05 Darlie Routier …there’s nothing touched…
05:24:12 911 Operator #1 …ok ma’am…
05:25:13 Darlie Routier …there’s nothing touched…
05:26:20 RADIO …(unintelligible)…
05:28:00 Darlie Routier …oh my God…
05:29:08 Police Officer …(unintelligible)…
05:29:23 RADIO …received…
05:31:19 RADIO …(unintelligible)…
05:33:25 911 Operator #1 …ma’am …is the police officer there…

911 Call Darlie Routier (click to hear)

Alternative explanation: the neatly cut supposed entry point and alleged staged crime scene along with the seemingly entire lack of consideration of the husband got me thinking – why were the police so quick to exclude the, at least, complicity of the husband in the murders? I mean, for an intruder – or his wife for that matter – to commit the murders & for him to only react in the aftermath is at least a little bit suspicious to me. Considering his vocation as a circuit board engineer wouldn’t the neatly cut entry point be more likely his doing than suburban housewife Darlie’s? Twelve days after the murders, the police arrested Darlie. There were no eyewitnesses, confession or motive. Circumstantial evidence suggested there was no intruder; physical evidence suggested the crime scene was staged; doctors’ queries about the validity of her injuries; and that infamous ‘silly string’ scene caught on tape at the elder son’s graveside. My question is – which one of those circumstantial factors exclude Darin – the husband – as a participant if not the protagonist?

He was graveside, he was acting inappropriately – if less visibly as the ugly husband of a beautiful blonde wife he was never going to be the focus of attention. Would she have the basal intelligence to even attempt – and in some ways – succeed in staging a crime scene? Does that sound more like the actions of a trophy wife or the successful, ugly, husband whose intelligence got the otherwise dim woman to her station in life?

Consider the following: Richard Reyna, a private investigator working for Darlie’s appellate attorney, Darin Routier admitted that in the spring of 1996, when his business was in trouble and he was $22,000 in debt, he had asked Darlie’s stepfather, Bob Kee, whether he knew anyone who might break into the family’s house as part of an insurance scam.

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