Darlie Lynn Peck Routier (born January 4, 1970) is an American woman from Rowlett, Texas, in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, who was convicted of murdering her five-year-old son, Damon. Two of her sons, Damon and 6-year-old Devon, were killed in the attack, but she was only tried for the murder of Damon.
On June 6, 1996, at 2:31 am, 911 dispatchers in Rowlett, Texas, received a call from 5801 Eagle Drive, the Routier home. Routier told the operator that her home had been broken into and that an intruder had stabbed two of her sons, Devon and Damon, and attacked her.
Police arrived at the Routier home within three minutes of the 911 call. They discovered a window screen in the garage had been cut, which indicated a possible entry point for an intruder. A search of the house and grounds did not locate an intruder. Having thus secured the site, police permitted paramedics to attend to the victims.
While the two boys sustained fatal injuries, Routier's wounds were superficial. She was treated at a hospital and released two days later. The youngest of her three sons, 7-month-old Drake, was asleep upstairs with her husband, Darin, at the time of the murders. Neither were harmed.
Newscasts showed Routier and other family members holding a birthday party at the children's grave to posthumously celebrate Devon's 7th birthday, just eight days after the murders. She was shown smiling and laughing as she sprayed Silly String on the graves in celebration of Devon's birthday, singing "Happy Birthday". Family members point out that the newscasts did not show an earlier portion of the video which depicted a solemn ceremony honoring the children. Four days later, she was charged with capital murder.
Routier later commented on the Silly String video, saying, "He wanted to be seven. I did the only thing I knew to do to honor him and give him all his wishes because he wasn't here anymore. But how do you know what you're going to do when you lose two children? How do you know how you're going to act?"
The prosecution suggested that Routier murdered her sons because of the family's financial difficulties. Prosecutors described Routier as a pampered, materialistic woman with substantial debt, plummeting credit ratings, and little money in the bank, who feared that her lavish lifestyle was about to end. Jurors also saw the Silly String video. Crime scene consultant James Cron testified that evidence suggested the crime scene had been staged.
Routier was represented at trial by prominent lawyer Douglas Mulder. Defense attorneys said that there was no reason why she would have killed her children. They said that the case did not have a motive, a confession or any witnesses. They asserted that it was unrealistic to accuse her of staging a crime scene. Her attorneys advised her not to appear on the witness stand, but she testified anyway and "withered under cross-examination by prosecutor Toby Shook."
San Antonio chief medical examiner Vincent DiMaio testified that the wound to Routier's neck came within two millimeters of her carotid artery and that it was not consistent with the self-inflicted wounds he had seen in the past. That differed from the assertions of her treating physicians, who had told police officials that the wounds might have been self-inflicted. Tom Bevel testified that cast-off blood found on the back of her nightshirt indicated that she had raised the knife over her head as she withdrew it from each boy to stab again.
Routier was convicted of murdering Damon and on February 4, 1997, was sentenced to death by lethal injection.
During June 2011, Darin Routier filed for divorce. He said that the decision to divorce was mutual and "very difficult" and that he still believes his wife is innocent. He said that they decided to divorce to end the "limbo" that they had been in since her arrest and conviction.
Defense attorneys allege numerous errors made during Routier's trial and in the official transcript of it, as well as the investigation of the murders, especially at the crime scene. An appeals court dismissed these claims, as did a court ruling on her habeas corpus petition.
During 2008 Routier was granted the right to new DNA tests. Her appeals have been remanded to the state level for improved DNA testing. On January 29, 2014, Chief Judge of the Western District Fred Biery granted a request from prosecution and defense for the Routier case for further DNA tests vital to the defense to be performed on a bloody fingerprint found in the house, a bloody sock and Routier's nightgown.