Judge rules on Routier evidence


By TIM WYATT / The Dallas Morning News

A Dallas judge ruled Monday that appeals lawyers for Darlie Routier will not be allowed to examine evidence from the Rowlett mother's 1997 capital murder trial just yet.

State District Judge Robert Francis signed an order Monday morning stating his court did not have jurisdiction to grant defense lawyers to get independent forensic testing on evidence used to convict Ms. Routier until a formal writ of habeas corpus is filed.

Ms. Routier's legal team asked the judge to order prosecutors to turn over seven pieces of evidence collected from June 1996 crime scene in which Mr. Routier's two young sons were stabbed to death.

  Convicted murderer Darlie Routier
waves to friends as she leaves
the courtroom after a hearing
last week.

Ms. Routier was convicted and sentenced to die for the death of 5-year-old Damon Routier. She was also accused but not tried of killing 6-year-old Devon.

J. Stephen Cooper, one of five appeals attorneys working to overturn Ms. Routier's February 1997 death sentence, said the request for evidence will be renewed on Friday, when the formal writ is filed in Judge Francis' court.

"We felt we had a right to get the evidence before the writ was filed," he said. "We'll take that issue up immediately."

Prosecutors opposed the early release of evidence before the writ's filing, and have maintained that they have already proved there was no intruder in the Routier home on the night of the murders.

Among the items being sought for re-testing is a slashed window screen and Ms. Routier's nightshirt. Defense attorneys hope new forensic tests will support arguments that an intruder came in through a back window and killed the two boys and that Ms. Routier's wounds were not self-inflicted as maintained in her trial.