Fingerprints in Routier case to be tested
Altoona native on Texas death row hopes for break
Darlie Kee, the mother of an Altoona woman on death row in Texas for the 1996 stabbing deaths of her two young sons, has fought for years to have authorities run an unidentified bloody fingerprint found at the scene of the killings in hopes of exonerating her daughter.
Now after all these years, her wishes have come true.
Dallas County District Judge Gracie Lewis, in a June 14 order, instructed the County Clerk’s office and the Southwest Institute of Forensic Sciences to turn over two fingerprint lift cards of the bloody print and to release the cards to an investigator from the District Attorney’s office for transport to the Texas Department of Public Safety, where the prints will be run in an attempt to find a match.
If there is a match, it could be the break in the case the defense needs to either obtain a new trial or exonerate Kee’s daughter, Darlie Routier, now 49.
The print cards were listed as exhibits 85-I and 85-J when they were introduced in Routier’s 1997 trial.
Routier was convicted of killing her 5-year-old son, Damon, and is the only suspect in the death of her 6-year-old son, Devon.
The children were sleeping with their mother in the downstairs television room of their Rowlett, Texas, home on June 6, 1996, while Darlie’s husband, Darin, was upstairs with the couple’s newborn, Drake.
Routier has maintained her innocence since she became a suspect in the stabbing deaths within hours of the killings.
She states that an intruder entered the home and ended up killing her sons and inflicting injuries to her, including a puncture wound of her neck 2 millimeters from her carotid artery.
The prosecution contended during trial that those wounds were self-inflicted.
Routier, represented by a team of Texas attorneys, has challenged her conviction at both the state and federal levels as she remains on death row in the Texas State Prison in Gatesville.
June 14 was a big day for Kee and the defense team.
Not only did the Dallas County judge order release of the fingerprint cards, but Kee and an estimated 55 of Routier’s supporters held a “Convoy for Justice” rally outside the Dallas County Courthouse.
That was followed by a rally at the Capitol in Austin the next day.
The speaker at the Dallas rally was Kristine Bunch, who was convicted of setting a fire that killed her 3-year-old son in 1996.
She spent 16 years behind bars before the courts determined key evidence was falsified.
Kee stated that her daughter’s case has now been taken up by the Innocence Project in New York, and she said a consultant with the Project assisted with the petition that led to the release of the two fingerprint cards.
Routier’s defense team has no problems with the Texas Department of Public Safety testing and running the prints, but as to the 85-J print, the defense pointed out the DPS has procedures that may limit its running through national fingerprint data bases.
The Innocence Project fingerprint consultant, Matthew Marvin, stated in a letter concerning the issue that 85-J is suitable for comparison and searching through all available automated fingerprint systems.
Also on June 14, Routier’s attorneys, Richard Burr of Houston and J. Stephen Cooper and Richard Smith, both of Dallas, submitted a status report on the case, noting the effort to identify the bloody fingerprint found on a table at the murder scene.
That print allegedly does not belong to Routier, other family members or police officers and EMTs who arrived at the home the night of the killings.
The status report also stated that the defense is awaiting results of DNA testing on five items of evidence.
Those items include a bloody sock from one of the children found in a ditch 75 yards from the Routier home and items from the nightgown Routier was wearing.
With entry into the case by the Innocence Project and with the DNA and fingerprint testing, Kee is more hopeful now than ever that Routier will get a new trial or be exonerated of the murders of Devon and Damon.
“We had a nice turnout,” Kee said of the rallies at which T-shirts and hats were distributed.
“She (Routier) is very much relieved people will finally know the truth.”
Kee said she not only wants to see her daughter freed, but also, “I hope to prevent other cases like this.”
Kee is an Altoona native whose maiden name was Mauk. Her father, Paul E. Mauk, lives in Altoona as does Routier’s father, Larry Peck, who was serving in Vietnam when Routier was born.
Kee and her daughter eventually moved to Texas where Routier met her husband while the two, as teenagers, worked in a Lubbock steak house.
Routier and her husband, Darin, divorced in 2011.