COURT GRANTS ROUTIER LIMITED DNA TESTING

By JIM VERTUNO Associated Press Writer June 18, 2008
AUSTIN -- Darlie Routier, a homemaker sent to death row after her two young sons were fatally stabbed in their upscale suburban house, on Wednesday was granted new DNA testing she hopes will prove her claim that the true killer was an intruder. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that Routier should be allowed to conduct new DNA testing on blood stains on clothing, hairs and dried flakes of a substance found near the garage of the Routier home in the Dallas suburb of Rowlett. "This is an answer to a prayer," a tearful Darlie Kee, Routier's mother, told The Associated Press. "I'm not a scientist. But I know my daughter is innocent." Routier's previous appeals to the court had been denied, but state law allows for post-conviction DNA testing in some cases. Routier's children, Damon, 5, and Devon, 6, were stabbed to death in their home in 1996. Routier has maintained her innocence and claims an Intruder attacked her and the boys then fled through the garage. She was arrested two weeks after the murders. Her 1997 trial was moved to Kerrville because of publicity surrounding the case. She was convicted of capital murder for Damon's slaying and sentenced to death by lethal injection. The items Routier can test were already tested for her trial. But her attorneys argue new, improved DNA technology could produce evidence to support her claim of an intruder. The case now goes back to the trial court to set up the new testing. Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins said his office has "no doubts about Ms. Routier's guilt. We are confident that the new testing will reaffirm the jury's decision." The items to be retested: _Blood stains on her night shirt that previous tests showed to be soaked in blood from her and the boys. She claims newer techniques may find another source of blood. _A blood stain on a tube sock found in an alley. The sock contained blood from both boys and a third blood stain that did not yield a result. The court agreed that newer techniques might yield a DNA result. _Dried flakes on a utility room door. Although the flakes were previously tested and found not to include human DNA, Routier alleges they are dried blood that should be re-examined. _Pubic and facial hairs. The pubic hair yielded no result and the facial hair was found to be from someone other than Routier or her husband. She maintains the facial hair is from the alleged intruder and hopes to connect it to the results from the other retested items. The court denied retests of a bloody palm print on the coffee table and blood stains on a butcher knife, which investigators said was the murder weapon. In granting the new testing, the court said the state's case against Routier remains strong, but if the new testing shows the results Routier alleges, there's a chance a jury would not convict her. "There is at least a 51 percent likelihood that the jury would have seen her as a victim herself, or at least that it would have harbored a reasonable doubt that she was not," the court wrote. Even if the tests cannot exclude her as the killer, planting that reasonable doubt to her guilt would be a key step, said Routier's attorney Stephen Cooper. "We don't have a home run ball here," he said. "We have to put together a couple of doubles." Prosecutors alleged the motive for the killings was money. Darlie and Darin Routier were living an expensive lifestyle and financial pressures of credit cards and late mortgage payments were mounting, prosecutors said. Darin Routier also acknowledged that a few months before the murders, he talked about hiring someone to break into the family's house in an insurance scam. Kee said she and Routier's youngest son, 12-year-old Drake, visited her in prison Tuesday. "He knows his mother is innocent," Kee said.