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The Cult of Darlie

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Brown also claims two intruders carried out the murders and attack in the Routier home. One of them, he says, "probably" is the son of the Rowlett police officer on the case, a young man who happens to have a long criminal history. Brown offers no other proof and says he hopes the police officer sues him so he can question him under oath during deposition.

Some of Brown's theories are absurd. He believes, and said as much on the Leeza show, that the first officer on the scene ran into the intruder on the Routiers' front lawn and let him go after the man said he was going to a neighbor's house to find help because someone had stabbed his children. How does Brown come to this conclusion? First, he says the officer testified about it in trial. Actually, the officer says he met Darin on the front lawn, pulled a gun on him, and, after Darin identified himself, walked with him back into the house.

Brown then says Darin claims he never left the house at all, something you think he would have had his defense attorney point out in the trial. Brown says he knows Darin is telling the truth because you can hear him during all of the five-and-a-half-minute 911 call Darlie made. Brown got a copy of the tape and had a friend of his at KRLD take out all the background noise. I listened to it and couldn't hear Darin at all.

While some of Brown's theories are laughable, there are others that are downright intriguing--even to the appeals attorneys on the case. In addition to the possibly identifiable bloody fingerprint on the utility-room door, there was a bloody mark on the bottom of the door that was never entered into evidence during the trial. Brown claims it could have come from the bloody pant leg or shoe of an intruder who ran into the door as he was fleeing.

Brown's book also points out something possibly amiss, or at least curious, with the police chain of custody on the evidence bag that contained the unidentified fingerprints taken from the crime scene. Officers can check out evidence as long as they sign for it and pass it along to other officers or investigators, who must also sign for it. But on one particular evidence bag, one officer's name, which is practically illegible, does not correspond to any officers in any of the departments that worked on the case. And between June and August, the officer's badge number mysteriously changes. What all of this means, if anything, isn't clear.

Unlike Barbara Davis and Darlie's family, not everyone is enamored of Christopher Brown and the freelance work he's put into this case, which he says has cost him $80,000 of his own money. Some people close to the case say Brown stole their ideas and is palming them off in order to make a quick profit. Even the people who applaud his enterprise and ingenuity worry that publishing some of these findings will hurt Darlie's appeal by alerting the state to what the defense has uncovered.

Brown is quick to ridicule and malign everyone involved in the Routier case, but when the tables are turned, he is defensive about his motives and reluctant to reveal much about himself. "The more anonymous I am, the easier it is for me to get information from people," says the man who's trying to peddle his story to every talk show and tabloid TV news show in the country.

A chubby, 35-year-old father of two, Brown is a professional dilettante, albeit an enterprising one. He says he has a background in medicine, which turns out to be the eight years he spent as a Navy corpsman--a glorified paramedic--stationed in California. After his stint in the service, he returned to Dallas, where he grew up, to take a job in marketing. He spent a few years trying to sell other people's products, then took a stab at marketing his own: a do-it-yourself winemaking kit, with which he had some modest success in local department stores. He tried to sell the product direct and contacted D magazine about taking out an ad. When he found out that a full-page, black-and-white ad would cost $10,000, he told the rep he could print his own magazine for that much money. Which is exactly what he did.

As serendipitous as it sounds, his 3-year-old entertainment magazine is what inadvertently led to his obsession with the Routier murder case. D'Lee Garza, the editor of his magazine, told him she wanted to make the publication more newsworthy. Garza's brother, who lives in Waco, suggested she contact his friend John McLemore, who was investigating numerous alleged wrongful convictions through his boss, Brian Pardo. McLemore agreed to write an article for Around our Town chronicling several cases he was working on, including the Routier case.

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Ann Zimmerman

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