Routier lawyers fire back at prosecution
Defense reasserts new evidence, seeks hearing before appeal decided
By HOLLY BECKA / The Dallas Morning News
Lawyers for condemned child killer Darlie Routier filed court papers
Friday reasserting that new fingerprint evidence proves the former Rowlett
housewife was wrongfully convicted. They also asked for a new trial.
The defense lawyers were responding to a brief that prosecutors filed in
January. The state argued then that Ms. Routier is the only person who
could not be ruled out as having left a bloody fingerprint on a table near
her slain sons.
New legal filings in the case began in July when her lawyers filed a
130-page writ of habeas corpus – sometimes called a second appeal –
seeking to retest key evidence and asking for a new trial.
Friday's filing includes a 21-page chart that points out multiple factual
or legal issues Ms. Routier's lawyers say are in dispute and warrant a
hearing before her appeal is ultimately decided by the Texas Court of
They said prosecutors have not proved that Ms. Routier should be denied a
hearing. They also requested access to evidence they have not been able to
test. Prosecutors could not be reached for comment late Friday.
One of Ms. Routier's attorneys, J. Stephen Cooper of Dallas, said: "The
goal was to clarify some of the issues the state misrepresented in their
response and to produce some additional affidavits to crystallize the
points we're trying to make regarding the fingerprint in particular and
some of the legal arguments. The ultimate goal is getting her a new trial,
but the state's whole response was that she wasn't even entitled to a
hearing on all our issues."
Prosecutors previously filed a 400-page motion arguing that evidence
presented at trial proves that Ms. Routier's conviction should stand. The
motion also attacked the credibility of defense experts cited by Ms.
Ms. Routier, 33, was convicted in 1997 of the capital murder of her
5-year-old son, Damon. His 6-year-old brother, Devon, also died in the
June 1996 stabbing attack that Ms. Routier insists was the work of an
In their first filing and again Friday, Ms. Routier's lawyers said that
her trial attorney had a conflict of interest; that prosecutors withheld
evidence that would have changed the trial's outcome; that prosecutors
used improper character-assassination evidence; and that the state's
fingerprint expert gave erroneous testimony.
At trial, the state's expert said the print probably belonged to a child.
But a forensic anthropologist has told Ms. Routier's attorneys that he
thinks an adult probably left the bloody print, and a retired New York
Police Department fingerprint examiner has said the print does not belong
to Ms. Routier.
Prosecutors have the option of filing a response.
In the meantime, the Court of Criminal Appeals has given state District
Judge Robert Francis six months to review all of the filings and decide
whether Ms. Routier deserves a hearing in Dallas before the appeal
If Judge Francis rules against a hearing, he could enter his official
findings of fact in the case and recommend whether he thinks Ms. Routier
deserves a new trial. That information would then be sent to the Court of
Criminal Appeals for its ultimate decision.