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.

The conversation keeps veering back to elements of the case that frustrate her, how the circumstantial evidence was twisted against her. Like a boxer who loses the most important fight of his life on a technical knockout, she can't give it up. She mentally replays the fight repeatedly seeing how obvious it is--to her--that there should have been a different outcome.

Ultimately, an interview with Darlie Routier is maddeningly frustrating. She is still hopelessly vague on the details of the attack. She has undergone several sessions of regression therapy to try to restore her memory of the event. "The therapy helped me understand a few things more that happened. With the hypnosis I know definitely there was more than one person there that night."

Though she only saw one person leave that night, from what the experts have told her, there had to be two people, because there were probably two knives used. So, did the therapy help her actually remember two assailants, or is it simply wishful thinking? Only God, Darlie, and two little boys know the answer.

On the way back to her cell, Darlie, who says she "never sewed on a button in my life," proudly points out a large embroidered white pillow that she has made for her son, Drake, who is almost 3. Darin or family members bring him to visit her about twice a month, but a plastic wall prevents them from ever touching.

Her cell is a mess. Guards have gone through all of the inmates' belongings in a routine lockdown where they search for contraband. Amid all her personal belongings--boxes of family photographs, Tootsie Roll pops, clothes, and toiletries, the guard found and confiscated a pair of the Victoria's Secret panties she wore the day she was incarcerated--her only link to the life she had before coming. The guard assures her that they'll be returned and that taking them away was just part of procedure.

As the cell door locks behind her, she turns and says good-bye. I wish her luck.

"Thanks," she says. "I'll need it.

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