DALLAS – The new documentary “The Last Defense” premiered on ABC Tuesday night. The series will examine the capital murder conviction and death sentence of Darlie Routier, a Rowlett mother found guilty of killing her son in 1996.
While the show might create doubt in viewers’ minds, one of the prosecutors responsible for Routier’s conviction says he has no doubt that she committed the crime.
“It was a very strong case when we presented it to a jury, and it remains a strong case,” said Toby Shook, a former Dallas County Assistant District Attorney who was one of the lead prosecutors.
On June 6, 1996, Routier called 911 to report someone had broken in her home and attacked her and her sons. Five-year-old Damon and six-year-old Devon were stabbed to death. Darlie had a wound across her neck that was not life-threatening.
Twelve days after the crime, Rowlett police arrested Routier and charged her with murder. Within months, Shook was assigned to her case.
“It was one of the most brutal murders I’ve ever been involved with,” he said. “It stands out because of the brutality of those little boys who were murdered in such a cold-blooded fashion by their mother. That’s something you’re never going to forget.”
Shook still has a binder of court documents and a copy of his closing argument in his downtown Dallas office. Even though he is now a criminal defense attorney instead of a prosecutor, he says this is a case people continue to ask him about.
He isn’t surprised that the story of a mom who killed her kids but continues to maintain her innocence draws attention. “They like to bring up issues in the documentaries that have already been litigated,” he said. “But if you get in a courtroom, Darlie Routier has always lost because the evidence is strong.”
“The best evidence we had in the case was Routier herself,” he added. “She gave about seven different stories about what happened. Her story changed constantly with whoever she would talk to.” Routier has lost two state appeals and is in the middle of a federal appeal. She remains on death row.
“I think obviously if you’re found guilty of murdering your children that it’s a deserving sentence, and she’s exactly where she should be,” Shook said. “I think as soon as the federal appeal is over, the sentence will be upheld and someday the sentence will be carried out.”
“Based on the evidence in this case I feel it’s a just sentence,” he said.