Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Darlie Routier: Doting Mother/Deadly Mother

Trial Preparations

Americans had been horrified at the destruction of two little boys' lives and now, with news that their mother might be their murderer, they were stunned. "Film crews and network anchors  descended like locusts on the town," writes Barbara Davis in Precious Angels

A tearful Darlie immediately after her arrest.
A tearful Darlie immediately after her arrest.

Darlie remained under custody at the Lew Starrett Justice Center, awaiting indictment. A Dallas County grand jury officially indicted her on June 28, on two counts of capital murder. That same day, Judge Mark Tolle, who would preside at her trial, issued a gag warrant that barred both the defense and prosecution from discussing the case with the media. This, of course, eliminated any of the direct players' participation on TV talk and radio shows.

Doug Parks with Darlie in court
Doug Parks with Darlie in court

Doug Parks, Darlie's court-appointed lawyer, presented a request to Judge Tolle on July 9, recommending that the trial be moved out of Dallas County where he claimed bad publicity would prejudice jury members. The motion went into consideration and before the trial would open on its scheduled date in January, 1997, it would indeed be moved to the town of Kerrville in neighboring Bexar County.

Parks' move was well orchestrated since, four days after, State Prosecutor Greg Davis announced in dramatic fashion that he would seek the death penalty. While such seemed unlikely the last woman to be executed in Texas was during the Civil War young but brilliant Davis had a knack for getting what he went after. Assisting him would be two rising prosecution attorneys, Sherri Wallace and Toby Shook.

Immediately after her incarceration, Darlie had demanded that she be given a polygraph  test, which the police agreed to administer. When she was informed that her husband Darin could not be present in the room during the test, she withdrew her request. However, she again changed her mind on advice from her defense team, but with a stipulation: that before she take the polygraph she exercise her right to take a private test first.

The results of that test were never formally released, but Darlie and her mother were seen immediately afterwards, sobbing relentlessly.

After the prosecution announced its death pursuit, the Routier in-laws hurriedly dropped the state-supplied lawyer assigned to Darlie and, knowing they needed big guns to fight back, mortgaged their homes to procure the services of headline defense attorney, Doug Mulder, late of the district attorney's office. To counteract the legal backup talent pressed against his client, he assembled a grade-A team, which included a retired FBI investigator.

Jury selection began October 16, 1996 in Kerrville. The process would take two days short of a month. Because of the media frenzy is Darlie guilty or isn't she? unfounded truths and rumors were flying amidst the tabloids and even major newspapers; lawyers from both sides wanted to ensure they had selected a jury worthy of the impartiality that a body of jurors was supposed to comprise. On November 14, they announced the voi dire complete: seven women and five men would be the final deciders of Darlie Routier's case after what promised to be a trial of high suspense.

Darin Routier, Mama Darlie and other family supporters took lodging in local hotels, where they would remain near the accused throughout the trial. Over his head in bills, Darin had by this time deserted the now-dreaded family home in Dalrock Heights Addition, transferring all personal possessions into storage. He let the mortgage payments lapse and, in mid-December, the mortgage company repossessed the property, six months in arrears.

The Routiers' home
The Routiers' home

It was claimed that at the time of foreclosure, the only reminder of the Routiers' lives there was a pair of little boys' gym shoes, left abandoned on the front porch.

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