Routier defense theory is revealed

Husband admits asking in-law about break-in scam, affidavit says


By HOLLY BECKA / The Dallas Morning News

Darin Routier asked his father-in-law whether he knew anyone who would burglarize his home as part of an insurance scam months before his sons were killed, according to affidavits made public Friday by his wife's defense attorneys.

Robbie Gene Kee, stepfather of convicted child-killer Darlie Routier, told his wife about the conversation two years ago, according to the attorneys. He wrote out his affidavit last month.

Darin Routier      

Last year, a private investigator hired by the defense confronted Mr. Routier, who first denied having made the statement, the affidavit said.

"Mr. Routier ... then admitted that he did tell Mr. Kee but that he did not follow through," investigator Richard Reyna wrote.

Ms. Routier's family fears that Mr. Routier mentioned the plot to others, who broke in on their own, one of her attorneys said. They say they think this is possibly why an intruder targeted the home.

Neighbors said they saw a black car watching the house before the June 1996 night when Devon and Damon Routier were fatally stabbed as they slept downstairs.

Prosecutor Toby Shook questioned why Mr. Kee didn't mention this before Ms. Routier's trial. He also said that prosecutors proved in court that no intruder existed.

"If someone was coming to break in the house, how come they didn't take anything?" Mr. Shook asked. "How come they murdered the children? That's the same [defense] argument we heard during the jury trial."

Mr. Kee and Mr. Routier, who has stood by his wife and always said that neither was involved in the crime, could not be reached for comment Friday.

Devon (left) and Damon Routier      

Financial status

Mr. Kee wrote that Mr. Routier told him a burglar could arrive while the family was away and "remove 'gobs' of stuff and take the items somewhere."

"Darin Routier said he would retrieve the items after his insurance company paid off and that he would pay the 'burglar' out of insurance proceeds," Mr. Kee wrote.

Mr. Shook noted that prosecutors alleged at trial that the Routiers' financial strains and the boys' insurance policies, worth a combined $10,000, were her motive for the killings.

"At trial, under oath, Darin and Darlie Routier said they were under no financial difficulty, so now their story has changed," Mr. Shook said. "Those were allegations that both the Routiers and the entire Routier family denied ... except now we have to consider why Darlie Routier lied."

J. Stephen Cooper, an attorney seeking to overturn Ms. Routier's capital murder conviction, said his client's account never wavered. The family spent $14,000 on the boys' funeral and didn't receive any financial gain from the deaths.

"Their financial status at the time did not appear to be in dire straits; they had debts like anybody else," Mr. Cooper said. "Whether Darin was thinking of doing something to make some money I don't think necessarily means that things were financially dire. He testified in court that their business goes up and down and that he had a bunch of receivables he expected to collect on."

Darlie Routier                      

Kee's timing

Mr. Cooper said he has asked Mr. Kee why he never mentioned the conversation until two years ago. The lawyer said Mr. Kee's reasons were that he didn't think Mr. Routier's scam idea could be connected to the slayings and that he and Darlie Kee, Ms. Routier's mother, separated for a time after the killings.

Mr. Cooper also said Mr. Kee told him his wife was adamant that neither Routier was responsible for the slayings, so he didn't think she would be receptive to the news.

Ms. Kee said Friday that her husband "made comments" about Mr. Routier after the slayings, "but I couldn't see it. I was too messed up."

She said Mr. Kee told her in 2000 about his conversation with Mr. Routier because the family had just learned that her son-in-law had arranged for someone to steal his car in 1994.

"I don't think he [Mr. Routier] physically had anything to do with it, but he's admitted that he said this up around his shop," she said. "It just makes more sense to me than anything else that's ever been out there, and it just makes me sick."

She said, however, that her family has not sided against Mr. Routier: "I care about Darin just like a son, and I know that if that's truly what happened, it was not his intention for anyone to be hurt. But I am upset that my daughter's in there [death row] for no reason, and it needs to be investigated because it never was."

No more investigating

Ms. Routier's throat was slashed and her arms cut during the crime, but prosecutors said she staged the scene and cut herself.

Mr. Shook said the affidavits don't warrant an investigation.

"Curious how they don't ever tell us who these people were, so we don't have a suspect we look at," he said.

Mr. Cooper responded: "It's a mystery, and Darin won't tell us about it. I don't reasonably expect the prosecution to look into any of the issues that have been brought out since the trial."

This information comes two weeks after a forensic anthropologist hired by the defense said he thinks a bloody fingerprint left on a coffee table probably belongs to an adult not one of her slain children as alleged at trial.

Mr. Shook said he could not comment on the fingerprint. The fingerprint analyst who worked the Routier case has disagreed with the findings, saying the analysis is not scientific evidence.

Mr. Cooper said the affidavits and anthropologist's work would be part of the next phase of the appeal to show that his client is innocent. Her appeal on allegations of trial error is pending.