Prosecutors assail Routier claims, criticize analyst
DA's office responds to legal filing that seeks retrial in child
By HOLLY BECKA / The Dallas Morning News
Dallas County prosecutors said in a legal filing Wednesday that convicted
killer Darlie Routier is the only person who cannot be ruled out as having
left a bloody fingerprint on a table near her slain sons.
Prosecutors also attacked the credibility of a forensic anthropologist who
told Ms. Routier's attorneys that he thinks an adult probably left the
Prosecutors made the assertions in their 400-page response to a legal
filing Ms. Routier's attorneys submitted in July in hopes of winning a
retrial. Ms. Routier's attorneys could file a response. Then a Dallas
judge must decide whether hearings are necessary before recommending
whether a new trial should be granted. He will then forward the case to
the Court of Criminal Appeals in Austin for its ruling.
Meanwhile, Ms. Routier's direct appeal, which focuses on transcript
problems and allegations of trial error, is pending before the Court of
Ms. Routier's filing in July focused on new information her attorneys
found after her 1997 conviction and death sentence for the capital murder
of 5-year-old Damon Routier. Six-year-old Devon also died in the June 1996
knife attack that Ms. Routier insists was the work of an intruder.
Prosecutor John Rolater Jr. wrote Wednesday that Ms. Routier did not prove
her innocence and had undermined her claims that an intruder killed her
children and attacked her in the family's Rowlett home.
Mr. Rolater said a fingerprint expert compared the bloody print with known
prints of all paramedics, police, forensic technicians and others who were
in the home after the murder.
Pat Wertheim, a Department of Public Safety latent print examiner from
Arizona, then signed an affidavit stating: "All the ... people were
excluded as the source of the latent print except the right ring finger of
Darlie Lynn Routier. The latent could be neither excluded nor identified
to that finger, and the comparison was deemed inconclusive."
J. Stephen Cooper, one of Ms. Routier's attorneys, said he doesn't give
much credence to Mr. Wertheim's findings, saying the matter was a "battle
of the experts."
"Aside from ... [the forensic anthropologist], no less than three other
fingerprint experts have excluded Darlie as being a possible source," Mr.
Mr. Cooper said a bigger issue was that a state's expert told jurors at
trial that the bloody print was of such poor quality, it could not be used
to identify or exclude anyone.
"And now they're taking the position they've excluded a whole bunch of
people but can't exclude Darlie, which I find convenient and highly
contradictory of what they were telling the jury was true."
Prosecutors also filed an affidavit from Mr. Wertheim in which he accuses
Ms. Routier's lawyers of misrepresenting testimony from the state's first
Responding to another defense allegation, prosecutor Toby Shook signed an
affidavit saying he never knew before Ms. Routier's trial that a forensic
analyst had been hospitalized for alcohol treatment and that he didn't
think the man's drinking interfered with the analyst's work.
A psychiatrist prosecutors consulted before Ms. Routier's trial signed an
affidavit stating he never told them whether Ms. Routier posed a future
danger – an issue a jury must decide before handing down a death sentence.