Prosecutors' brief says Routier doesn't deserve new trial
It says convicted killer's faulty transcript was appropriately corrected
By HOLLY BECKA / The Dallas Morning News
Dallas County prosecutors filed court papers this week arguing that
convicted killer Darlie Routier doesn't deserve a new trial and that her
faulty court transcript was accurately corrected by legally acceptable
The prosecutors' brief, made public Tuesday, responds to Ms. Routier's 14
claims of trial error, which her appellate attorneys filed in July with
the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in Austin.
Ms. Routier's attorneys have the opportunity to file a written response,
and then both sides will make oral arguments before the highest criminal
court in Texas. It still could be months or even a year before the court
rules on Ms. Routier's direct appeal, officials said.
Now on death row, Ms. Routier was a Rowlett homemaker when she was
convicted of fatally stabbing her 5-year-old son, Damon, in June 1996. She
was accused of killing 6-year-old Devon but was never tried for that
Ms. Routier has maintained her innocence, insisting that an intruder
killed her sons and slashed her as they slept downstairs in front of the
television. Her husband and the couple's baby, sleeping upstairs, were
Ms. Routier's appeal was delayed for years by the faulty transcript, which
prompted the appeals court to order the trial court to attempt to repair
the record. A Dallas judge assigned court reporter Susan Simmons to fix
the error-riddled work of original court reporter Sandra Halsey.
Ms. Routier's appeal argues that the new transcript is legally
insufficient and inaccurate, noting 54 pages could not be certified.
Prosecutors argue in their brief that Ms. Simmons merely edited and
corrected Ms. Halsey's work using her trial audiotapes and stenographic
notes. They say steno notes exist on the 54 pages, which means the pages
could be certified. The 54 pages are a "minute portion" of the more than
10,000-page transcript, they said.
"I think they misstated the facts in significant places and ignored
several legal issues that were raised," said J. Stephen Cooper, one of Ms.
Routier's appellate attorneys.
Ms. Routier's attorneys say the trial judge improperly handled her lead
defense counsel's conflict of interest in representing Darin Routier – her
husband and the only other suspect in the crime. They contend that no
record exists of whether the trial judge conducted a pivotal pretrial
hearing after prosecutors filed a motion identifying Mr. Routier as a
Prosecutors argue that defense attorney Doug Mulder never had a conflict.
They say he represented Mr. Routier only in a "tangential" gag order
Prosecutors note that Mr. Routier was never charged in the killings or
identified as a possible suspect during his wife's trial. Mr. Routier
maintains that neither he nor his wife committed the crime.
Prosecutors discount Ms. Routier's claim that a hearing on whether she
waived any conflict is not found in the transcript and has been "lost."
Ms. Routier's attorneys say that the hearing is noted in a docket sheet
and that attorneys are quoted later in the transcript talking about it.
Prosecutors say the state's motion seeking such a hearing is no evidence
of a missing hearing. They say the transcript reflects that Ms. Router
waived any conflict of interest between Mr. Mulder and her husband.