The family of a notorious, North Texas convicted killer is still fighting for her freedom more than 20 years later.
Darlie Routier is one of only a handful of women on death row in Texas.
Two of Routier’s young sons – 6-year-old Devon and 5-year-old Damon – were stabbed to death in the living room of their Rowlett home in June 1996.
Darlie Routier claimed that an intruder broke into the house, killed the boys and slashed her throat before escaping into the night. Routier’s then-husband, Darin, and their youngest child, Drake, who was 7-months-old at the time, were unharmed and reportedly asleep upstairs at the time of the incident.
Routier was convicted of her son Damon’s murder, and in February 1997 she was sentenced to death.
Several members of Routier’s family have maintained that she is innocent of the crime, including her mother, Darlie Kee.
Kee and a group of about two dozen supporters gathered at the Rockwall gravesite of Damon and Devon Friday, on what would have been Devon’s 30th birthday.
"I believe she will be exonerated within the year," said Kee, who holds out hope that crime scene evidence, which is now in the process of being DNA-tested, will clear her daughter's name.
The graveside ceremony Thursday comes 23 years after another gathering at the same site that Darlie Kee believes helped to wrongfully convict her daughter.
On June 14, 1996 – just over a week after the murders – Darlie Routier and other family members gathered at the graves and were seen laughing, smiling, holding balloons and shooting Silly String in a display that prosecutors later argued was not the behavior of a grieving mother.
"A lot of [the people who believe Darlie Routier is guilty] did not like the Silly String. But they did not see the prayer service [where] we had 20 or 30 people at a prayer service for two hours before that," Darlie Kee said. "The Silly String was for the children because it was Devon's birthday."
"They're definitely wrong," Kee said of those who believe Darlie Routier is guilty. "A lot of them were just like the police and they prosecution. They had their target set on Darlie right from the beginning rather than doing a real investigation."