Darlie Routier, 20 years later

Here’s an update on one of the more notorious murder cases in recent history.

If it hadn’t been for that crazy Silly String, Darlie Lynn Routier might be a free woman today.

At least, that’s what many people believe about the notorious Rowlett woman now on death row after savagely stabbing her 5- and 6-year-old sons 20 years ago Monday as her husband and 7-month-old son slept upstairs.

Shortly after the murders, NBC5 (KXAS-TV) captured video of Routier — with bleached hair, smacking gum and giggling — spraying Silly String on her sons’ graves. Jurors in Kerr County watched the video at least seven times before convicting Routier of capital murder in 1997 for the deaths of one of the boys.

“They ended up deliberating on the Silly String,” her mother, Darlie Kee, told The Dallas Morning News this week. “Silly String is not a lethal weapon.”

Routier’s family says the Silly String, provided by Darlie’s sister, was part of a birthday celebration. Her oldest son, Devon, would’ve turned 7 that day. The party followed a prayer service for both Devon and his younger brother Damon, but TV cameras didn’t capture the tears, Kee said, only a frolicking Routier.

Kee maintains her daughter’s innocence, saying an intruder killed the boys. And even two decades later, there are lingering questions in some minds about Routier’s guilt.

Some point to a bloody sock found in the alley behind the family’s home as proof Routier was telling the truth about an intruder. Others don’t believe Routier is innocent but wonder if she really acted alone. And many people still have a hard time believing that a young mother could butcher her babies in cold blood.

Prosecutors in the case believe the matter is settled, but it continues to wind its way through the state’s appellate court system. No date has been set for Routier’s execution.

Her attorney and family say they believe new DNA testing will prove that someone else was in the home that night 20 years ago. They say the pending tests could give Routier, now 46, a chance at a new trial.

“This is not solved,” Kee said. “They have not found who killed my grandsons. That person is still walking the streets.”

I don’t know what to think about this one. It’s easy enough to imagine that Routier was not given a fair shake at trial, given the hysteria and the way she was portrayed in the media, but as far as I know there haven’t been any of the usual allegations about specific wrongs – prosecutorial misconduct, lying witnesses, tainted evidence, etc – that generally accompany cases where a clear injustice has occurred. Routier’s conviction was upheld by the CCA in 2003, though given the CCA’S notorious pro-prosecution tendencies, that in itself doesn’t mean much. She was granted the right to pursue further DNA testing by the CCA in 2008, but if anything has happened with that since then there’s no news of it I can find. This story about Routier appeared on the same day as stories about Kerry Max Cook’s exoneration after 39 years, Sonia Cacy winning a ruling of actual innocence in the death of her uncle, and the Supreme Court agreeing to review two Texas death row cases. Perhaps one day Darlie Routier will get another chance to convince a court she didn’t kill her sons.

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