More testing OK'ed in Routier case

November 19, 2008 2:23:08 PM PST
Darlie Routier, the suburban homemaker on death row following the fatal stabbings of her two young sons, will be allowed to have new forensic tests on evidence in the 12-year-old case. A federal judge in San Antonio granted testing a bloody sock with human hair that was found near the crime scene. The judge also gave permission to run four fingerprints through a national database and new analysis of a butcher knife presented at trial as the murder weapon and fibers from another knife. The decision signed Nov. 5 comes months after the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals allowed for testing of some pubic and facial hairs.

Routier, 38, was sentenced to death in the death of her 5-year-old son, Damon. She also was charged with killing his 6-year-old brother, Devon but was not tried for the death. Routier contends an unidentified intruder killed her sons and stabbed her in the family home in Rowlett in 1996.

Her lawyers sought to use testing methods that were not available when the case was tried on blood, hair and fiber evidence.

"To have two separate courts say, 'Yes, you have valid claims,' obviously it's a big deal, especially for the fingerprints," said Stephen Cooper, one of Routier's attorneys. "Everyone has said no (to checking the fingerprints). We've been trying to get the fingerprints in the FBI database for comparison for 10 years now."

Although U.S. District Judge Royal Furgeson granted the testing, he questioned whether analysis of some items could prove Routier's allegations of an intruder attack. If another person's DNA is found on the bloody sock, that won't necessarily prove an intruder alone was responsible for children's deaths, Furgeson wrote in his 18-page ruling.

Prosecutors are confident that Routier's conviction and death sentence will stand, said Dallas County First Assistant District Attorney Terri Moore.

"I'm not afraid of the testing," Moore said.

In the same ruling, the judge denied other requests, including attempts to test a blood-soaked night shirt Routier wore the night of the killings and a review of previous DNA testing.

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