Fallen Angel

True-crime author Barbara Davis fought hard to redeem Darlie Routier's reputation. Now she's caught in her own bizarre web of death, drugs, and family hatreds.

Later, Hill worked briefly in Blue Mound and with the Tarrant County Sheriff's Department before joining the Watauga Department of Public Service, first as a fireman, then as a police officer. Despite being characterized by several fellow workers as "confrontational," Hill's work earned him a number of commendations, one for his investigation of drugs being delivered to the Tarrant County jail.

At North Richland Hills, he became the designated paramedic for the department's SWAT team. Hill's responsibility to be ready to administer treatment to any member of the SWAT team injured during a raid begs a question that Davis' attorneys are likely to raise: Why would the person who would be called on to provide medical aid to fellow officers be in the lead when the house was entered, placing himself in maximum risk of injury?

After being no-billed by the grand jury, Hill returned to work and has been assigned to desk duty. According to Richland Hills police officials, he will not return to enforcement work until the legalities of the Davis case have been cleared up.

Meanwhile, the controversy of the "no-knock" warrant hangs over the case like a shroud. While legal experts nationwide criticize use of the tactic, for which there are few clear-cut guidelines, law enforcement continues to request it and judges continue to sign off on it.

And the number of lawsuits resulting from military-style police raids continues to grow. In Los Angeles recently, a jury awarded the family of suspected drug dealer Donald Scott $5 million after sheriff's deputies shot him as he emerged from his ranch house bedroom carrying a pistol.

And while North Richland Hills police chief Shockley insists that the threat of an armed Troy Davis placed his officers in potential danger, thus making the "no-knock" warrant essential, it is a law enforcement procedure that is clearly under fire. Recently, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the provision allowing police to search a house without knocking if they believe guns might be inside.

"The use of the 'no-knock' warrant," says Fort Worth criminal defense attorney Jack Strickland, "clearly heightens the potential danger to everyone concerned. In recent years, it seems that the smaller [law enforcement] agencies have been more prone to use the Rambo-type tactics."

And so it is a mystery of many levels, best and most simply described by North Richland Hills police chief Shockley, who refers to it as "a tragic event."

Today, Barbara Davis, free on $16,000 bail, leaves her home only to visit her son's grave, attend church and grief counseling sessions, or occasionally say hello to supportive friends in the neighborhood. Word is that many of the Darlie Routier supporters who once warmly embraced her have now distanced themselves. While Davis has not changed her mind about Routier's innocence, she admits she's lost the burning desire she once had to campaign for her freedom.

She says she now suffers from short-term memory loss that developed the week after Troy's funeral and has lost almost 25 pounds. Everything, she says, is an effort: "I have to talk myself into getting out of bed, getting dressed, doing anything. And I cry a lot. I'm just trying to make it through one day at a time."

Her home, she says, is a constant reminder of the darkest moments of her life. Unable to enter the den where her son died, she restricts herself to her bedroom and the kitchen. Her mother and daughter Lisa visit occasionally, but won't come to the house. "We meet somewhere," Davis says.

As Easter approached, she was back to her late-night routine, staying up until six in the morning coloring eggs for the children at her church and to place on her son's grave. "I go there and talk to him," she admits. "Sometimes I leave little notes."

Meanwhile, her lawyers tell her it may be months before her case goes to trial. If convicted, she could face a prison term ranging from two to 20 years or as much as 10 to 99 years.

Only recently has she returned to writing. Wearied of true crime, she's working on a novel.

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