Enter the World of Darlie Routier --
a world where good and evil dwell as friends
By Anne Good, for Justice: Denied, The Magazine for the Wrongly Convicted
PART 1, THE FACTS THAT SHAPE DARLIE'S WORLD
Case summary: On the night of June 6, 1996 two young boys, little Damon,
5, and Devon, 6, lie sleeping on the floor in front of the television
while their mother, Darlie Routier, 26, slept on the couch. Exactly what
happened next remains a mystery. Suffering from partial traumatic amnesia,
Ms. Routier recalls being awakened by her son and "feeling groggy." She
saw a man in a baseball cap standing near the couch. Both of her sons died
that night from multiple and brutal stab wounds to the upper torso
inflicted by a knife from the Routier kitchen and a second knife, which
has never been found. Ms. Routier's throat was slashed and she was
stabbed several times. Emergency surgery saved her life. Twelve days
later she was arrested. Seven months later, she was
convicted of killing her children and sentenced to die.
The past four years have produced clear and convincing evidence that
Darlie Routier did not murder her children. Her conviction appears to
have been the direct result of suppressed evidence, prosecutorial
misconduct, character assassination, and an over-zealous DA who was
willing to "bend" the rules to secure a conviction.
Darlie's suburban world was shattered forever on that June night of long
ago. A new world was about to emerge...a world where the truth is fluid
and can take on any guise...and where "winning" is all that matters to
the state. In this world justice takes a back seat to job promotions,
weekly paychecks, and personal gain. Below are a few facts that have
helped shape this New World that Darlie must now call "hers."
The jury never heard about a possible missing murder weapon. Darlie
was never charged with Devon's death, perhaps, 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. 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. However, they failed to mention
that Devon's blood was not found on this knife.
The crime scene was severely contaminated. With disregard for crime
scene protocol, at least twenty paramedics and police officers trampled
through the house before it was completely secured. Key evidence was
moved, blood was trampled on, multiple bloody items were rolled up and put
in the same bag, and wet, bloody towels were left behind. The vacuum
cleaner was moved all over the place and the pillow Darlie was lying on
disappeared and reappeared throughout the collection of crime scene
photos. This is extremely significant because the placement of these items
was used to "prove" Darlie staged the crime scene.
Key evidence was withheld from the jury. 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. The
prosecution was able to successfully convince the jury that her wounds
were not serious, thus, self-inflicted.
Lack of motive continues to be troubling. With absolutely no history
of violence and a reputation for being a loving and devoted mother, we
must question the state's attempt to explain her actions. 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
"snapped," where is the building process? Are we to believe that she made
the kids popcorn, 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?
The timeline is impossible. 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 that were inspecting the house
before they allowed 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.
Recently (May 8, 2000) The Dallas Morning News uncovered the fact
that the state's key expert witness, Charles Linch, was committed to a
psychiatric hospital and heavily medicated because he was a danger to
himself and others. The information was kept from the jury and the defense
team. Mr. Linch has now stated he performed work in this case for which
he was not qualified. More information is to come.
A bloody fingerprint on the coffee table remains unidentified, giving
the potential to bolster Darlie's claim of an intruder.
Summary: In this highly complex case, these bullet points are only
the tip of the iceberg. They are provided to give those readers who are
unfamiliar with Darlie's case a brief overview. Additional research will
positively convince even the most casual reader that a serious injustice
has occurred in a land that theoretically offers "liberty and justice for
For a more detailed account of this case, please refer to our archives and click on "Darlie Routier: In Search of the Truth."
PART 2, ENTER DARLIE'S WORLD
No More Stalins, No More Hitlers
By William S. Burroughs
We have a new type of rule now not one man rule or rule of aristocracy or
plutocracy, but of small groups elevated to positions of absolute power
by random pressures and subject to political and economic factors that
leave little room for decision. They're representatives of abstract
forces who've reached power through surrender of self. The iron will
dictator is a thing of the past. There will be no more Stalins, no more
Hitlers. The rulers of this most insecure of all worlds are rulers by
accident, inept, frightened pilots at the controls of a vast machine they
cannot understand. They bring in experts to tell them which buttons to
push. Leaving Dallas County en route to the Mountain View Unit in
Gatesville, Texas, the view noticeably improves. No longer flat and dry,
lush vistas begin to emerge as one maneuvers through the now increasing
peaks and valleys.
Gatesville can be best described as a "one horse town" and that "horse"
is the Texas Department of Corrections. A makeshift restaurant in the
local Texaco station, complete with cheap tables and worn chairs, seems
to be the preferred choice for dining among many of the locals, most of
whom are employed by the prison system. Laughter frequently erupts among
the uniformed, gun-toting clientele as they feast on the special of the
day, fried crawfish pie. Surprisingly, the convenience of filling your
tank, buying a corn dog and a slush, and enjoying a light moment or two
with your coworkers seems to make sense in Gatesville.
Approaching the prison, hundreds of Scissor Tails, a unique bird
indigenous to the area, dance in the sky, momentarily conjuring up images
of a Disney film. Surrounded by wild mustard, blue bonnets, cactus,
grazing cows, and rolling hills, Mountain View certainly lives up to its
name. But, looks can be deceiving. Amidst this peaceful backdrop lies a
cold concrete structure cloaked in seemingly endless rows of razor wire.
Despite its pastoral setting, make no mistake: this is a place where
Death reigns supreme. It would be difficult to exaggerate the dark
presence that permeates the compound. Once inside, even the air seems
harder to breathe and the sunlight more harsh to the eye. The unit itself
is clean, well kept, and as pleasant as any place can be with the sole
purpose of housing inmates who are counting the days until they are
transported to the death chamber. Hand painted murals of children adorn
the walls and inmate art is proudly displayed in a glass showcase. Every
visitor is treated with kindness from the staff.
This is a very confusing place to visit.
It looks more like a location for a retreat, a place for spiritual
rejuvenation. Instead of offering serenity for the occupants of the
little red brick "home," it offers little hope of ever leaving unless
encased in a body bag.
This is Death Row. This is where we put all those we deem "undesirable."
This is Darlie Routier's world.
Known as "Offender Routier" to guards, Wardens, and other prison
officials, Darlie seems sad but relaxed when we meet. She is escorted out
of her cell in handcuffs by a guard who routinely exchanges pleasantries
with her. Through bullet proof Plexiglass, a prison official greets her
warmly, asking her how she has been since they last met. Various
officials tell me what a "wonderful" person Darlie is. They are sincere
and seem to genuinely like her. They joke and interact with her as though
she was the favored friend of one of their own children.
Darlie explains her view, that these are basically "good, hard working
people...just doing their job." Her spirit of benevolence is impressive
and I am intrigued by her thoughts.
Can "good people" participate in bad things and remain "good"? I wonder.
Still, these are the very same people who handcuff and shackle this
"wonderful" woman, submit her to humiliating strip searches several times
daily, and lock the door to the 6 x 9 cell that she has occupied for four
difficult years. They are also the very same people who will serve Darlie
her last meal as they prepare a final "cocktail" that will stop her heart
from beating. I think of Karla Faye Tucker, who thanked her captors for
their kind treatment as they strapped her to a gurney, several with tears
in their eyes. Yes, these are the very same people who will "do their
job" and announce to the world the exact time of Darlie Routier's death
and describe what her last minutes were like.
Does it really matter if they joke with her now, and have a tear in their
eye at the end?
The confusion increases.
Like a vine creeping up the exterior of a historic building, at first
glance the foliage is attractive. A closer look will reveal crumbling
mortar as the vine slowly but steadily imbeds itself into the structure.
In time, this once harmless sprig will gain enough momentum to actually
bring down the once solid brick exterior. Such is the way of evil; it
appears harmless at first glance, it may even appear attractive but, in
time, it will pervade our lives, causing nothing but decay and destruction.
Horrific images of Hitler's reign float in and out of our collective
consciousness. We have no problem identifying the actions of the Gestapo
as evil. There are few US citizens who can think of Auschwitz without
shuddering. It is only in the understanding that many of these soldiers
were simply "doing their job" by day, and were loving fathers and
husbands by night that we can begin to fathom how "good people" can
participate in bad deeds.
Perhaps when viewing it on an individual basis, true evil is not
commonplace. It is institutionalized evil that is destructive for it
relies on the cooperation and support of "good people" to accomplish its
With the entire nation now intently focused on "Who Wants to be a
Millionaire," it is not surprising that institutionalized evil can
flourish, unrecognized, right in front of our very eyes. As the national
debate centers on the color of Regis Philbin's tie, the state of Texas is
literally getting away with murder and most certainly executing innocents
in its quest to "get tough on crime." Perhaps we were watching "Queen for
a Day" while six million Jews were slaughtered.
This is an extreme example, to be sure, but perhaps the question that
begs asking is: what is more extreme in our society than an organized
effort to strap human beings to a gurney and with full knowledge and
intent, kill them? A.) Nothing B.) Kathy Lee talking about Cody C.) Using
all life lines in the first two questions D.) Calling George W. Bush for
I'll go with A...and that's my final answer.
The fact that many of these inmates have not received the benefit of
competent counsel and others are surely innocent, like Ms. Routier, only
compounds this societal nightmare.
All that is necessary for evil to flourish is for good people to do
This is not the only bewildering aspect of Darlie's world. She now finds
herself surrounded by a host of well meaning people, most with some type
of personal agenda. People on the outside have attached themselves to her
for a variety of reasons. Her family and friends have stood by her because
they love her and believe in her innocence...and they cannot bear the
thought of losing her to a system of justice that has lost its way. Her
mother, Darlie Kee, vows to fight for her daughter's innocence "until I
take my last breath." Other family members and friends reinforce that
However, like the guards who collect a weekly paycheck, there are those
who get close to Ms. Routier for personal gain. Notoriety seems to
attract self-serving agendas. Inside this cast of colorful characters is
a businessman who likes to play "Dick Tracy," Internet junkies who spend
endless hours discussing this case and love to post "I received a letter
from Darlie today," writers who promote her guilt or innocence depending
on the financial climate, and inmates who would use her and tell lies
about her in one hot minute as a bargaining tool for a reduction in their
own sentence. Disguised as friends, supporters, and "knights in shining
armor," these predatory people feed off her vulnerability and her
innocent, self-described belief "that people are basically good."
But, can "self-serving people" participate in "good things" and still be
considered "self-serving?" Again, I wonder.
In spite of the predatory aspects of her daily encounters, Darlie still
manages to find comfort in sincere expressions of human kindness. Her
attorney, public defender Stephen J. Cooper, has set a new and higher
standard for those who represent indigent clients. Tirelessly, he works to
free her, often doing solo what most law firms would assign five
attorneys to handle. His genuine affection for his client is apparent,
most assuredly the result of his complete belief in her innocence. A
million-dollar check could not buy this kind of effort and loyalty. No,
this exhausting endeavor is the result of Compassion meeting Innocence
and taking action.
Additionally, there is an outpouring of love from complete strangers who
simply want her to know they care. Ms. Routier receives some 200 letters
weekly, many of them sincere in their support. As Darlie told me, "The
love I receive from strangers is often what gets me through the day.
Sometimes a single minute can seem like eternity in here, but when I read
those letters I am lifted up...they give me the strength to keep on going."
Can it get any more confusing? Darlie's only human contact is with those
"good people" who will kill her the moment they receive a brief memo from
their superior. She hasn't held her four-year-old son in four years...or
been allowed to cry in her mother's arms over the loss of her beautiful
boys, Devon and Damon. Not a single friend or family member has been able
to comfort her with a hug during the worst nightmare of her life. The
only time she is ever touched is when a guard brushes her skin as she is
being handcuffed and shackled.
How long can the human spirit persevere under these conditions?
We know it can continue for at least four years, for Darlie Routier's
compassionate spirit remains astonishingly intact. Conversations with her
often revolve around normal human struggles common to us all: learning to
forgive, keeping a positive attitude, and trying to reserve judgment
toward those whose actions could be harmful to us. A single afternoon
with her reveals that Darlie is more successful with these struggles than
many who have not faced a fraction of the tragedy, pain, and confusion
that encompasses her daily world.
Darlie minimizes her accomplishments. "I am no better or worse than
anyone else. Being here just magnifies the struggles that each one of us
face. I am just trying to survive each day in here the best way that I
can. The state has taken everything else from me...I can't let them take
I left the Mountain View Unit with more questions than answers. This
environment is not as black and white as most people would assume. There
are plenty of gray areas to ponder. This is not a matter that can be
defined by anti-death penalty views versus pro-death penalty views. It's
about "good people doing their job" while compartmentalizing their
paycheck from their value system. Before we are too quick to judge, we
must consider the guard who is the single mother of four, living in small
town with few employment options, and relying on her earnings to feed and
clothe her family. We must also consider the very nature of an evil that
is so pervasive it can exist with a smile and a handshake and weave its
way into the daily fabric of decent, hardworking people without them even
Before we judge the personal agendas of those colorful characters who
seem to prey on tragedy, we must also consider that they have indeed
stepped out of their daily lives to immerse themselves in a cause that is
decidedly unpopular and offers little hope and few rewards. A yearly
contribution to the Jerry Lewis Telethon would be far less complicated.
Let us also not fail to notice and address the systematic evil that hangs
like a dark, ominous cloud over Darlie's world. In every single failure
to perceive evil, we run the risk of becoming unwitting participants. We
owe it to ourselves to approach this as though our very survival depends
on it -- because perhaps it does.
A popular T-shirt slogan in the 60's was "What if they gave a war and
nobody came?" Today, in the state of Texas, that same slogan could read,
"What if they held an execution and nobody came?" Each one of us is
responsible for our actions and must bear the burden of looking evil in
the eye and choosing to remain passive...or collecting a paycheck.
If one afternoon at The Mountain View Unit can produce so many questions
and so much confusion, imagine what living there must like.
Now, there may well be the most confusing paradox of all -- life on death
With no life lines left and evil on the rise faster then game show
ratings, there are no winners in Darlie's World.