Stop the Execution of Darlie Routier! Release this innocent crime-victim.
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Like the case of David Camm who was finally exonerated after serving 13 years in prison, Darlie Routier was accused and convicted of the brutal murders of her two precious children--based solely on controversial forensic evidence known as bloodstain pattern analysis.
She suffered the trauma of having been awakened by an intruder who slit her throat. This unknown assailant also stabbed her two boys sleeping next to her. Darlie's 911 call is chilling and horrific. Stricken with panic, fear, and the shock of having to watch the life drain out of the bodies of her two small boys, she nearly bled to death waiting for help to arrive. And to make matters worse, she was tried, convicted and sentenced to death based on the testimony of Tom Bevel, a hired bloodstain pattern expert. Bevel testified that he magnified small patterns of stains on the mother's nightshirt that he interpreted as “cast-off” patterns, which to him suggested that it was the mother who wielded the knife that killed her two children.
Bevel was the same bloodstain expert who was responsible for the wrongful conviction of David Camm. Camm, a ten year veteran of the Indiana State Police, was acquitted and set free on Oct. 24, 2013, after spending 13 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. A reconstruction of the crime scene, including a palm print and DNA, proved that the murder of his wife and two children was committed by a career criminal who was motivated by shoe fetish. Bevel interpreted eight tiny dots of blood on Camm’s t-shirt and concluded these were created by high velocity impact spatter from having fired the gun that killed his family. Some of the most respected bloodstain analyst in the county came to a different conclusion—that these stains were transferred from the hairs of his daughter when David attempted CPR on his son.
Bloodstain scientists Terry Laber and Bart Epstein, who assisted with the defense of David Camm, were hired by Darlie Routier’s public defenders. They analyzed the bloodstain interpretations of Bevel and came to a different conclusion about these patterns. They provided a favorable report to her defense attorneys. However, the testimony of the prosecution’s bloodstain expert, Tom Bevel, went unchallenged. A private attorney was hired by Darlie’s family a month before trial and failed to call Laber or Epstein. He told the family he thought he could handle this through his cross-examination of Bevel. The attorney kept the retainer for himself, and spared the family the expense of flying the experts to Dallas.
Darlie’s case is very similar to another mother who was wrongfully convicted of stabbing her 10 year-old son. On Oct. 13, 1987, in Lawrenceville, IL, Julie Rea was awaked at 4 a.m. to the sound of her son’s scream. When she rushed to his room across the hall, in the dark of the night, she collided with a child serial killer, Tommy Lynn Sells. He dropped the knife on the floor, and began beating her with his fists. Despite physical injuries, including a gash on her arm, a black eye, bruises and abrasions, Julie became the prime suspect. She was charged with capital murder three years later, after the elected prosecutor who resisted pressure to arrest her left office. A new prosecutor hired bloodstain “expert” Rodney Englert, who examined Julie’s nightshirt and found what he interpreted as evidence of “cast-off”. After she was convicted in March of 2002, True crime author Diane Fanning published Through the Window: The Terrifying True Story of Cross-Country Killer Tommy Lynn Sells. Sells told Fanning about a murder in Illinois in which he had killed a child and was startled by the mother who came into the room. Two years later, Texas Ranger John Allen provided an affidavit in support of Julie’s petition for a new trial. The Illinois Innocence Project had corroborated the serial killer’s confession. Julie was acquitted in a new trial, and the courts have issued her a Certificate of Innocence.
Darlie Routier, however, remains on death row in Texas, awaiting execution based on the same bloodstain interpretation evidence that convicted Julie Rea. Private investigator Gary Dunn commented after the release of his client, David Camm: “Bloodstain evidence is mostly subjective. One bloodstain expert said it’s like looking at the clouds, they all see something different”.
In 2009, the National Academy of Sciences released a critique of forensic science practices in U.S. courtrooms, noting that since the introduction of DNA testing in 1989 that “faulty science” was found to be responsible for the wrongful convictions in a number of post-conviction DNA exonerations. Bloodstain Pattern Analysis (BPA) was one of the disciplines that was criticized because of the interjection of “examiner bias”. The report noted “many sources of variability arise with the production of bloodstain patterns, and their interpretation is not nearly as straightforward as the process implies”. The report found, “some experts extrapolate far beyond what can be supported”, and went on to conclude that “extra care must be given to the way in which the analyses are presented in court. The uncertainties associated with bloodstain pattern analysis are enormous”. (Source: Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward, The National Academies Press, Washington DC (2009), pp. 42, 177-179.)
With this much uncertainty and doubt about the reliability of the interpretations of bloodstain experts like Tom Bevel, can we tolerate the execution of a woman who has always maintained her innocence. Can we tolerate the execution of Darlie Routier, who by all appearance, was a crime victim, along with her children who died that night?
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