Sat September 13 2003

The Case




JUNE 1996

6: Darlie and Darin Routier's two oldest sons, Devon, 6, and Damon, 5, are fatally stabbed in the downstairs living room of their home on Eagle Drive in Rowlett. Ms. Routier, 26, is wounded in the neck and upper torso. She tells police that a man wearing dark clothes and a baseball cap committed the crime. Mr. Routier tells police that he and the couple's 8-month-old son, Drake, slept through the attack in an upstairs bedroom.


14: The Routiers hold a graveside birthday celebration for Devon, who would have turned 7. They spray Silly String on the grave and sing "Happy Birthday." Afterward, they give a 45-minute interview to KXAS-TV (Channel 5) during which they say they have nothing to hide and have no idea why someone would kill the boys.


18: Police arrest Ms. Routier and charge her with capital murder in Devon and Damon's deaths. Investigators say her account of the attack does not match evidence from the scene. She is held at the Lew Sterrett Justice Center in lieu of $1 million bail.


28: A Dallas County grand jury indicts Ms. Routier on two counts of capital murder, and a gag order is imposed on people involved in the case.



15: Prosecutors announce they will seek the death penalty against Ms. Routier.



12: State District Judge Mark Tolle, acting on a request by Ms. Routier's attorneys, decides to move the case out of Dallas County because of pretrial publicity. (On Sept. 27, he orders the trial moved to Kerrville.)


26: In a pretrial hearing, Mr. Routier, 28, denies that he and his wife argued about finances the night of the killings. Rowlett police Detective Jimmy Ray Patterson testifies that police found blood near the sink and near the front door. But he says they found no blood near the garage window where Ms. Routier said the intruder fled and none outside the house. Detective Patterson also says Ms. Routier showed little concern for her sons when police interviewed her the morning after the attack. Defense attorney Wayne Huff suggests that Ms. Routier was sedated at the time. A doctor from the medical examiner's office testifies that Ms. Routier's wounds could have been self-inflicted.



21: Jury selection begins in the case involving Damon's death. Judge Tolle refuses to move the case back to Dallas.



14: Seven women and five men are selected as jurors.



6: Both sides give opening arguments. Ms. Routier's attorneys say she is devoted to her children and has been traumatized by the slayings. Prosecutors say she is a selfish, cold-blooded woman who stabbed her sons because she and her husband could no longer satisfy their expensive tastes.


29: Ms. Routier takes the stand and denies killing her sons. She says she can't remember anything about the attack.



1: After about seven hours of deliberation, the jury returns a guilty verdict.



A transcript of Darlie Routier's trial is due to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in Austin.


MARCH 1998

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals files a contempt judgment against court reporter Sandra Halsey for failing to complete Ms. Routier's transcript on time, despite being granted extensions.



Ms. Halsey files the transcript with the Court of Criminal Appeals. She tells The Dallas Morning News that she nearly had a nervous breakdown trying to prepare the transcript.



The Court of Criminal Appeals orders state District Judge Robert Francis in Dallas County to begin an independent review of the transcript after Ms. Routier's appellate attorneys discover discrepancies.



13: Judge Francis orders expert Susan Simmons of Tyler to attempt to correct the transcript using audiotapes, stenographic notes and Ms. Halsey's version of the transcript. Attorneys for Ms. Routier and prosecutors call the independent review "unprecedented."


APRIL 1999

Ms. Simmons, the court-appointed expert, testifies that she believes she has reconstructed the transcript for the guilt-innocence phase of Ms. Routier's trial. Judge Francis later adopts Ms. Simmons' reconstructed version of the transcript and officially deems Ms. Halsey's transcript seriously flawed.



5: Ms. Halsey's professional certification is revoked by the Court Reporters Certification Board. Ms. Halsey resigns from her position on the board before her colleagues vote on her professional fate.



14: Ms. Simmons testifies that she has reconstructed the remainder of the transcript. Prosecutors say they believe the new record is accurate and valid, but Ms. Routier's appellate attorneys contend it's illegal and that no one can vouch for the completeness of the audiotapes.



5: Judge Francis issues an order adopting Ms. Simmons' reconstructed version of the jury selection and pretrial matters in Ms. Routier's case. He orders the reconstructed version to be delivered to Austin to the Court of Criminal Appeals, which must decide whether it is legally acceptable for Ms. Routier's appeal.


16: Dallas County files a lawsuit against Ms. Halsey in an attempt to recover the money it has spent for Ms. Simmons' transcript review and reconstruction work.



After Ms. Simmons' work is delivered to the Court of Criminal Appeals, attorneys discover two volumes have been overlooked. Judge Francis orders Ms. Simmons to review and correct them.


August 2000

Judge Francis has Darile transported to Lew Sterrett Justice Center, at taxpayer's expense, in preparation for a hearing scheduled for September 8, 2000.



8: Judge Francis cancels hearing within hours of its scheduled time. This is done after issuing 12 subpoena's - one of which was issued to Charles Lynch who now resides in the State of Virginia. Mr. Lynch was in transit when the the hearing was suddenly canceled. Judge Francis then left the courthouse and could not be reached for comments. Of course, journalist have a short attention span therefore an explanation was never given.


July 2001

23: Routier's attorney, Mr. Stephen Cooper, delivers Routier's Direct Appeal to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Document can be read via the Transcript option from the menu to the left.



John Rolater, the appellent attorney handling Routier case for Dallas County, requests from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals an extension. He cites personal reasons as well as his work load. Document is not published out of respect to his personal life.


January 2002

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals grants Mr. Rolater half the time he requested in his motion filed in December 2001. The State's response to the Appellant's Direct Appeal.



25: Mr. John R. Rolater, Jr. filed the State's Brief with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in Austin. This document can be read by selecting the Transcript option from the menu to the left.



26: Mr. Stephen Cooper filed the Appellant's response to the State's response to the Direct Appeal. This document can be read by selecting the Transcript option from the menu to the left.


27: The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals heard Oral Arguments in this case. We now await their decision. Each Wednesday the courts decisions are published on their web site.



Darlie is transported to Lew Sterrett Justice Center in preparation for scheduled hearing to rule on motions requesting that evidence be released to the defense in order to gain forensic testing. The hearing is scheduled for July 3, 2002.



3: A hearing was held in Judge Francis' court in order to introduce attorneys from Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher as Routier's Writ Attorneys. At this hearing various articles of evidence was requested by the defense for forensic testing. Judge Francis ended the hearing questioning whether he had decision making jurisdiction over the evidence.


12: The Writ of Habeas Corpus was filed with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. This document, and accompanying affidavits, can be read by selecting the Transcript option from the menu to the left.


January 2003

Mr. John R. Rolater, Jr. filed the State's response to the defendant's Writ of Habeas Corpus. The Dallas District Attorneys Office does not dispute that the bloody unidentified fingerprint found at the crime scene does not belong to either Devon or Damon Routier. Instead, the Dallas District Attorneys Office has flip-flopped on their original theory, and is now distancing them selves from Rt. Lt. James Cron by hiring a fingerprint expert from Arizona. Although officers with the Rowlett Police Department, the Rowlett Fire Department & paramedics, and Darin and Darlie Routier were excluded as the source of this print at the first trial. The Dallas District Attorneys office has begun a game of semantic gymnastics! Their supposition now is to say that Darlie's ring finger cannot be 'excluded' - despite the fact that fingerprint science is definitive. One either has a MATCH or one doesn't.



28: The Defense files their response to the State's response to the Writ of Habeas Corpus.



27: The Direct Appeal has been in the hands of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals for 12 months without a decision.



On May 21st the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals upheld Darlie Routier's conviction. Their opinion on the Direct Appeal can be read online. Click Here.