June 20, 2008
New DNA tests for Darlie Routier

Remember Darlie Routier, the housewife from Rowlett who is on death row for the stabbing deaths of her two young sons? She has maintained her innocence all along, saying that it was an intruder who killed her boys, and since the trial some strange facts - the court reporter was fired for committing thousands of errors in the trial transcript, her husband admitted that financial problems had led him to consider a plan to hire a burglar to steal stuff from the house to defraud their insurance company - have come to light, though an appeal for a new trial was denied five years ago. Now, however, the Court of Criminal Appeals has granted her request for new DNA testing on some of the evidence from her trial, on the grounds that it may cast doubt on her conviction.

The items to be retested:

Blood stains on her night shirt that previous tests showed to be soaked in blood from her and the boys. She claims newer techniques may find another source of blood.

A blood stain on a tube sock found in an alley. The sock contained blood from both boys and a third blood stain that did not yield a result. The court agreed that newer techniques might yield a DNA result.

Dried flakes on a utility room door. Although the flakes were previously tested and found not to include human DNA, Routier alleges they are dried blood that should be re-examined.

Pubic and facial hairs. The pubic hair yielded no result and the facial hair was found to be from someone other than Routier or her husband. She maintains the facial hair is from the alleged intruder and hopes to connect it to the results from the other retested items.

The court denied retests of a bloody palm print on the coffee table and blood stains on a butcher knife, which investigators said was the murder weapon.

In granting the new testing, the court said the state's case against Routier remains strong, but if the new testing shows the results Routier alleges, there's a chance a jury would not convict her.

"There is at least a 51 percent likelihood that the jury would have seen her as a victim herself, or at least that it would have harbored a reasonable doubt that she was not," the court wrote.

It should be noted that this case is in Dallas County, home of numerous DNA-related exonerations. The Dallas County DA's office had no comment for this story, but it'll be interesting to see how they play this. Given that this was not a case of a conviction due to questionable eyewitness testimony or a coerced confession, they're on far more solid ground being in opposition to Routier. But DNA is DNA, and if more modern testing can corroborate enough of Routier's story to cast doubt on the result of her trial, then I think they've got to consider their options. I'll keep an eye on this.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 20, 2008 to Crime and Punishment

Wow, this certainly is interesting. Looks like if she were guilty, she would not be asking for these tests. Interesting. Guess we will see, hopefully.

Posted by: Patty on June 20, 2008 9:28 AM