Routier requests retesting

Appeals lawyers file massive writ in pursuit of new trial in slaying


By TIM WYATT / The Dallas Morning News

Lawyers for condemned killer Darlie Routier filed a formal request in a Dallas court Friday, renewing a request to retest key evidence from her 1997 capital murder trial in light of new evidence that they say backs her claim of innocence.

Ms. Routier's four-lawyer appeals team filed the 130-page writ of habeas corpus - supported with more than 200 pages of sworn statements and documents - in the hopes of winning a new trial.

The Rowlett mother was sentenced to die for the stabbing death of one of her two young sons, who were killed June 6, 1996.

Friday's filing says information uncovered during investigations since her conviction shows that:

  • Her trial attorney was hired on the condition that he would not mention Ms. Routier's husband, Darin, as a possible suspect.

  • Prosecutors withheld information that a psychiatrist who examined Ms. Routier stated she posed no danger to society, a key element for a jury to decide when considering the death penalty.

  • At least one juror would not have voted to convict Ms. Routier if the videotape of a somber graveside memorial service had been shown at trial. Instead, the jury saw highly publicized footage taken moments later of the Routiers celebrating their sons' birthdays by shooting Silly String at each other.

  • A forensic expert whose documented mental problems and alcoholism were kept hidden from the defense now says his work should have been questioned and tested independently.

    The filing also restates allegations that a botched trial transcript hurt Ms. Routier's initial appeal and that new forensic evidence has surfaced since her trial.

    The strongest attack in the filing comes against Doug Mulder, Ms. Routier's trial attorney, for allegedly agreeing not to name Mr. Routier as a possible suspect in the boys' slayings.

    In a sworn statement taken Thursday, Mr. Routier said that while Mr. Mulder represented him in August 1996, the prominent defense attorney warned him that Ms. Routier's lawyers were planning to portray him as a suspect in the attack.

    "I told Mr. Mulder that if we hired him [to defend Ms. Routier], I did not want him to go after me," Mr. Routier wrote. "Mr. Mulder agreed that if hired to represent my wife, he would not argue as part of the defense that I was in any way responsible for the death of my children."

    Mr. Routier also, for the first time, admitted to having sought someone to burglarize their home as part of an "insurance scam." He wrote that he planned to arrange for his family to be away from the house at the time of the break-in.

    He did not say whether he recruited someone to do the job.

    Later in his statement he said that late on the evening before the attack, "I had a verbal disagreement with my wife. ... During that discussion, my wife asked me for a marital separation."

    Dallas County Assistant District Attorney John Rolater declined to comment on allegations made in the writ, which was filed with court clerks minutes before offices closed. Mr. Rolater said his office would investigate all the allegations and file a response with state District Judge Robert Francis.

    That investigation and reply could take up to six months, according to court procedure.