Defending Darlie

Wealthy Waco businessman Brian Pardo spends his time and money helping death-row inmates he believes are innocent. His efforts on behalf of Darlie Routier have raised suspicions about her husband--and about Pardo's motives.

"Darlie clearly didn't have the time to do all that," says Pardo. In previous media interviews, prosecutor Greg Curtis, who did not return calls from the Observer, has dismissed the whole argument with the simple explanation, "Darlie had plenty of time." As for the jury, members interviewed after the trial said they simply ignored the whole timeline defense. "We didn't buy it," one juror told The Dallas Morning News. It was complicated to follow, and Pardo argues that Darlie's defense attorney, Doug Mulder, did not explain it well or often enough.

"The jury invented their own timeline," says Lloyd Harrell, a former FBI agent who worked as an investigator for Darlie's defense team. "The jury is not supposed to solve the crime. They are supposed to render a verdict on the evidence presented. I thought I knew what reasonable doubt was until this case."

If Darlie intended to murder her sons, why wouldn't she have made sure they were dead before calling an ambulance? That is a question Pardo and other Darlie supporters have been asking since she was arrested.

It is clear from Darlie's 911 call, during which the operator describes her as "hysterical," that she knew that Damon was still alive. According to a transcript of the call, Darlie twice tells Damon to "hang on, honey, hang on." She twice tells the operator that "my babies are dying," and then another time shouts, "what's taking so long...if they [the paramedics] don't get here soon my babies are going to die."

Despite Darlie's seeming desire to want to save her sons, the police say she made no attempt to help the boys as they lay on the floor dying. In the affidavit for Darlie's arrest warrant it says, "...Darlie never made attempts to stop their bleeding, touch them, or render first aid."

Two days after the murder, in between being discharged from the hospital and viewing the children's bodies at the funeral home, Darin and Darlie were asked to go to police headquarters and give written statements about what they remembered from the night of the attacks. Among other things, Darin wrote that before help had arrived, he gave Devon CPR, and Darlie wrote that she had placed a towel on Damon's back. She would later tell the police that she also brought Darin wet towels for Devon.

A Rowlett paramedic told the Observer that he never saw a towel on Damon's back. But at the trial, the police officer who collected evidence from the scene testified that there were at least four wet, bloody dish towels strewn around the house, two near where Damon was found, one by Devon, and one in the kitchen by the phone. The officer chose not to collect the towels as evidence, because he didn't think they were important.

A cornerstone of the case the police built against Darlie was "her inconsistent statements."

According to the arrest-warrant affidavit, she initially told officers that she woke up with a man brandishing a knife standing over her and they struggled. In her voluntary statement she wrote that Damon woke her up on the couch, and then she saw a man walking away from her. She tells the nurses in the hospital that she remembered a man standing over her with a knife, and tells a friend that the man was rubbing her face with the knife. The police also claim she told them different versions of how and where she came upon the knife.

But officers did not take notes of many of their interviews with Darlie. The lead investigator, Jimmy Patterson, conducted his first interview with Darlie moments after she awoke from surgery and was heavily medicated. Several times in the arrest warrant, Patterson writes that Darlie's written statement says she found "the knife on the utility-room floor." Nowhere in the statement does she write or indicate that.

Unfortunately, the defense couldn't examine these issues with Patterson, because he took the Fifth Amendment in the middle of his testimony when Darlie's defense lawyer began asking him about his decision to illegally bug the boys' graves in the hopes of obtaining a graveside confession.

The prosecution accused her of later embellishing details she had left out of her voluntary statement in order to counteract incriminating evidence. For example, her written statement says only that she put a towel on Damon's back. After the arrest warrant points out that a copious amount of blood found at the sink led the crime-scene investigator to believe she slit her throat there, Darlie started saying that she also had fetched wet towels for Darin, who was aiding Devon.

Investigator Lloyd Harrell, who has become an outspoken advocate for Darlie, says the state held her to an unfair standard of truth. "They insisted she give a voluntary statement before she goes to the viewing of her children. She tells them she won't have enough time to get it all in, then they hold it against her because she says it is incomplete."

The state overlooks its own inconsistencies. In a dramatic moment in the trial, a blood-splatter expert shows how spots of the boys' blood came to be on the back of Darlie's nightshirt. With a knife in his hand, the expert repeatedly makes stabbing motions, bringing the knife high over his head and coming down on an imaginary child. Yet the two dime-sized drops of the boys' blood overlap drops of Darlie's blood on the nightshirt, apparently contradicting the state's theory that Darlie cut herself only after returning from depositing the sock down the alley, after the boys were stabbed.

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