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Routier defense can explore evidence

A judge in Dallas County, Texas, has issued an order giving defense attorneys representing Darlie Routier, a former Altoona woman on death row for the 1996 murder of one of her young sons, access to the district attorney’s files in the case.

Routier’s mother, Darlie Kee, who was raised in Altoona and still has many relatives in the area, sees this as another positive sign that her daughter is close to receiving a long-awaited hearing that could result in her either receiving a new trial or exoneration.

Darlie Routier’s case has been the subject of many reviews on television, including a recent airing of ABC’s “The Last Defense,” which explored several cases in which the alleged perpetrators continue to maintain their innocence despite serving many years in prison.

Routier was arrested in June 1996 for the stabbing deaths of her two older children, Devon, 6, and Damon, 5, that occurred in the upscale home she shared with her husband, Darin, in Rowlett, Texas.

While Routier reported that an intruder entered the home during the early morning of June 6, 1996, stabbing her and the two children, who were sleeping in a downstairs television room.

Police, however, quickly concluded that there was no intruder and that Routier committed the murders, even though she also suffered many serious knife wounds, including one on her neck that was 2 millimeters — about 5 sixty-fourths of an inch — from her carotid artery.

The young mother, while charged with the killings of both children, was tried in early 1997 only in the killing of 5-year-old Damon because it was a crime that carried with it the possible death penalty.

Routier is represented by several Texas attorneys, including Richard B. Smith and J. Stephen Cooper and the Innocence Project of New York.

The Routier post-conviction appeal has been stalled for more than a decade as DNA testing of blood samples from the crime scene have been underway.

According to an update filed in June by the defense and prosecution attorneys with the U.S. District Court for West Texas, the DNA testing is continuing.

But as of late last year and early this year, several developments have occurred that have brought hope to Routier’s mother.

The Innocence Project has joined the defense, and Dallas County District Judge Gracie Lewis has ordered the running of two bloody fingerprints that were collected from a coffee table at the scene but as of yet, have not been identified.

Kee hopes the prints the may lead to a possible suspect who, Routier claims, entered the home that fatal night.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Judge Lewis issued another order granting the defense access to the district attorney’s files in a effort to determine if the prosecution withheld exculpatory information from the defense in preparation for the 1997 trial.

Prosecutors are mandated to provide information in their possession that may be helpful to the defense.

The judge went to great lengths in her order to limit access to the files to representatives of the defense, expert or other witnesses for the defense, and Routier.

Before Routier or prospective witnesses can review items in the file, the defense attorneys must redact addresses, telephone numbers, driver’s license numbers, Social Security numbers, dates of birth and bank account numbers that would tend to identify the individuals in question.

Any information that the defense wants to disclose publicly must first be reviewed by the court, the Lewis order stated.

Kee this past week commented, “I think it is a good motion because they (the defense) will review everything (the) prosecutors did.”

Post-conviction hearings in both the Dallas County Court and Federal District Court for West Texas remain on hold.

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