June 6, 1996

The 911 Call

Times for the events of the 911 call are taken from a transcript prepared by Rowlett P.D. communications officer Dean Poos.  Because his transcript varies from the one introduced at trial, the quotes below are from the trial exhibit.

2:31:06 am: The 911 call begins.  Devon, Damon, and Darlie have all been stabbed by this time, and the prosecution argued that Darlie had already “staged” the entire crime scene to make it look like an unidentified intruder had committed the attack.  5-year-old Damon Routier is still alive.

2:31:28 am: The 911 dispatcher puts out a call for an “Unknown medical emergency, 5801 Eagle Drive . . .”

2:34:54 am: The voice of the first police officer on the scene, David Waddell, is heard on the 911 recording, telling Darlie to “lay down . . . ok. . . just sit down.”  Darlie tells Waddell “they ran out in the garage.”

2:35:09 am: Darlie says “they left a knife laying on . . .”  The 911 dispatcher immediately says “There’s a knife . . . don’t touch anything.”  Darlie responds “I already touched it and picked it up.”

2:36:48 am: The 911 call ends after five minutes and 42 seconds.  The second police officer on the scene, Sgt. Matt Walling has not yet arrived inside the house yet.  Damon is still alive, and remained breathing until paramedics arrived sometime after the 911 call.

At the Scene

2:37 am: Time estimated by Sgt. Walling’s written report for his arrival and the simultaneous arrival of the first ambulance.

2:45 am: Approximate time Officer Waddell assumes guard duty at the front porch of the Routier home.

3:15 am: Approximate time Officer Steve Wade takes over guard duty at the front porch of the Routier house.

4:30 am: Approximate time that Sgt. Tom Ward finds a bloodstained athletic sock 75 yards down the alley behind the Routier home.

5:57 am: Officer Steve Ferrie takes over guard duty on the front porch.

6:09 am: Officer David Mayne and Sgt. Walling accompany neighbor Karen Neal into the house to retrieve the Routier family’s dog.

6:11 am: Karen Neal exits the house, and retired Dallas police detective James Cron and Rowlett Sgt. David Nabors enter the home to conduct a walk-through of the crime scene with Mayne and Walling.

6:37 am: Cron, Nabors, and Walling exit the house after completing the walk-through of the crime scene.  Mayne remains behind to start photographing the scene.

At the Hospital

3:25 am: Time noted for Darlie’s arrival in the emergency room.

3:40 am: Darlie is brought into the operating room.

3:50 am: Surgery begins.

4:35 am: Surgery on Darlie’s throat wound ends; surgeons begin to tend to remaining wounds.

4:49 am: Surgery ends.

5:00 am: Anesthesia ends.

6:00 am: ICU nurse gives Darlie 25 mg. of Demerol for her pain.

6:11 am: Rowlett P.D. detectives James Patterson and Chris Frosch begin the first police interview of Darlie.

4:00 pm: Rowlett police photograph Darlie’s injuries at the hospital.

Investigation & Trial

June 8: Darlie is released from the hospital.  At the request of Rowlett police, she stops by the police station on the way home and gives a second interview to Det. Patterson.

June 9: Devon and Damon Routier are buried, hand-in-hand in a single casket.

June 10: Det. Patterson once again interviews Darlie at the Rowlett police station.  Photographs of her injuries are also taken at that time.

June 14: On what would have been Devon Routier’s 7th birthday, family and friends gather for a graveside memorial service.  A local television news crew films the service, which ends with Darlie and her sister spraying silly string over the balloons and flowers at the gravesite.

June 18: Darlie submits to a fourth voluntary interview.  Told midway through it that the police already have a warrant for her arrest, Darlie continues to talk for another hour before asking for an attorney.  She is then arrested and jailed.

Sep. 12: Judge Tolle grants a defense motion for change of venue, moving the trial from Dallas County to Kerr County.

Sep. 20: Attorney Doug Mulder represents Darin Routier and Darlie Kee at a hearing on claimed violation of the trial court’s gag order.

Oct. 21: Trial court grants Mulder’s motion to replace Darlie’s court-appointed counsel, but only after Mulder agrees that the substitution will not affect the case schedule.  Jury selection begins the same day.

Nov. 14: Jury selection concludes.

Jan. 6, 1997: Opening statements and first witnesses called at trial.

Jan. 31: After the attorneys make their closing arguments, the jury begins deliberations.

Feb. 1: Jury returns a guilty verdict.

Feb. 4: After one day of sentencing testimony, the jury sentences Darlie Routier to death.

Post-Conviction

1998: J. Stephen Cooper is appointed to be Darlie’s appellate attorney.  It soon becomes clear that there are a huge number of errors in the trial transcripts, but court reporter Sandra Halsey refuses to discuss the transcript.  Judge Robert Francis orders an inquiry.

1999: Judge Francis appoints court reporter Susan Simmons to recreate the trial transcripts from Halsey’s tapes.  Ms. Simmons had not attended the trial and refuses to certify the new transcript once she completes it.  Judge Francis approves the new transcript anyway.

2000: The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overrules Darlie’s objections to the corrected court reporter’s record, forcing the appeal to go forward with an uncertified and uncertain record of the trial.

2001: On July 25, Darlie’s brief is filed in appeal of her conviction.

2002: The Court of Criminal Appeals holds oral argument on the appeal of Darlie’s conviction on March 27.  On July 12, Darlie’s post-conviction attorneys (including Richard Smith) file her application for writ of habeas corpus with the state trial court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

2003: On May 21, the Court of Criminal Appeals issues its opinion denying Darlie’s direct appeal.  In July, the trial court appoints longtime death penalty defense attorney Richard Burr to serve as the lead attorney on Darlie’s habeas corpus petition.  In November, Darlie’s attorneys file a motion for DNA testing to be conducted under Texas’ post-conviction DNA statute.

2004: On August 4, the trial court denied Darlie’s habeas corpus petition.  On December 1, the Court of Criminal Appeals likewise denied habeas corpus.

2005: On November 29 – while her application for post-conviction testing was still pending in state court – Darlie’s attorneys timely filed her application for writ of habeas corpus in federal court.

2006: In August, a stay order was issued in the federal case to pause the proceedings there while the DNA testing issues were being decided by the state courts.

2007: On January 25, the state trial court issued an order denying all of the DNA testing Darlie had been seeking.  She appealed that order to the Court of Criminal Appeals.

2008: On June 18, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued its opinion reversing, in part, the trial court’s denial of post-conviction DNA testing.  Although the order did not grant everything that Darlie had requested, it was still the first significant setback for the prosecution during the post-conviction proceedings.  In July, the federal court lifted its previous stay of that case, leading Darlie to file her motion for discovery in federal court the following month.  On November 11, United States District Judge Royal Furgeson issued an order granting nearly all of the discovery had sought.

2009: In February, Darlie applied to the federal court for funding of the forensic discovery that court had granted.  In March, the court granted that request for funding.  But in April, the Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit denied the funding and ruled that the federal courts should await the results of the DNA testing being conducted through the state courts.  The federal habeas corpus case was promptly stayed after that ruling.