(Darlie) ROUTIER

Routier's lawyers seek DNA testing
August 18, 2004

By Bill Miller
Star-Telegram Dallas Bureau

DALLAS - Attorneys for Darlie Routier announced Tuesday a new round of legal actions aimed at getting her off of Death Row, where she awaits execution for the 1996 stabbing death of her 5-year-old son.

The lawyers said they were about to file a writ with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals asking that Judge Robert Francis be forced to comply with Routier's request for DNA testing on evidence gathered at the Rowlett home where her sons, Damon, 5, brother, Devon, 6, were found stabbed to death.

The lawyers, J. Stephen Cooper of Dallas, Richard Burr of Hugo, Okla., and Michael Flanagan of Washington, D.C., assailed Francis for his Aug. 4 ruling that rejected an earlier appeal by Routier and that declared that she received a fair trial in 1997 when she was convicted of killing Damon. She was not tried in Devon's death.

The lawyers said new tests on three bloody fingerprints would confirm Routier's statements that an intruder killed the boys and severely wounded her. But, they said, Francis and prosecutors have not cooperated with the request.

But John Rolater, a Dallas County assistant district attorney who specializes in appellate cases, disagreed that the Routier defense has been denied access to evidence.

During the news conference outside of the Frank Crowley Courts Building, Burr argued that defense experts have determined that a bloody fingerprint on a utility room door "is not sufficient to identify who left it, but it is sufficient to exclude people."

"Our experts have excluded Darlie Routier."

Rolater countered that the jury in Routier's trial considered the prints but still found her guilty.

In May 2003, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in Austin rejected Routier's direct appeal.

A year later, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a request by Routier to review the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals' denial of her death-sentence appeal.

Meanwhile, Francis' ruling released Aug. 4, has been forwarded to a Court of Criminal Appeals panel for review. The ruling also can be directly appealed before a state appeals court. Cooper also has noted that a federal appeal is possible.