As the trial began last week between the State of Texas and Eddie Ray Routh for the murder of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield, the prosecutors, determined to put Routh away for life without the possibility of parole, faced a difficult defense. The defense asserts that Routh was in the “grip of a psychosis” and could not distinguish right from wrong, according to the New York Times. In other words, the defense pled not guilty by reason of insanity.
Routh is an ex-marine that served approximately 6 months in Iraq in 2007 and 2008, and then served in Haiti after the Earthquake in 2010. He reportedly suffers from schizophrenia and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. The Washington Post reported that during Routh’s service in Iraq, the base at which he was stationed, Balad Air Base, was far from the combat zone and that his uniform was not decorated with the Combat Action Ribbon, the typical decoration worn by sailors and soldiers that served in direct combat. Because of this the question continues to rise if Routh did, in fact, develop PTSD while serving time in Iraq.
On the day of the shooting, Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield picked up Eddie Ray Routh from his home to take him to Rough Creek Lodge and Resort to the shooting range. Kyle and Littlefield did this regularly to help veterans transition back into civilian life and to bond with them over their love of shooting. Kyle texted Littlefield while driving to the range, saying that he thought that Routh was “straight-up nuts”. At the range, Routh shot Kyle 6 times and shot Littlefield 7 times before fleeing in Kyle’s truck. Around 5pm, an employee of the resort found Kyle and Littlefield, but Routh was gone.
Police pulled Routh over later that day, but Routh refused to cooperate, leading police on a chase before police disabled the truck along the road. Routh was then arrested.
Some of Routh’s responses, collected from CNN.com and abcnews.go.com, may give an answer to the question of motive. Gene Cole, who worked for the Erath County Sheriff’s Office, stated during Routh’s questioning on Friday, June 22, 2013, that he heard Routh say, “I shot them because they wouldn’t talk to me. I was just riding in the back seat of the truck and nobody would talk to me. They were just taking me to the range so I shot them. I feel bad about it, but they wouldn’t talk to me. I’m sure they’ve forgiven me” (CNN.com).
According to ABC, the judge would not allow testimony from further witnesses before Taya Kyle, Chris Kyle’s wife, and Judy Littlefield, Chad’s mother, took the stand. Both women gave emotional testimonies. Taya recalled her last moments together with Kyle before watching him leave with Littlefield on February 2, 2013. In the video clip by ABC news, Taya Kyle can be seen holding back tears and occasionally crying during her testimony.
The defense does not deny that Routh killed Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield. Rather, they are focusing on proving that, at the time of the shooting, Routh was insane. The prosecutors submitted evidence last Tuesday that shows Routh allegedly smoked marijuana, drank nearly a whole bottle of whiskey, and also had schizophrenia medication (no word if Routh ingested the medication), the morning of the shooting. Texas Rangers found all of these items in his home during a search.
Routh’s uncle was called to the stand, who testified that he came to the house the morning of the shooting because of a domestic dispute between Routh and his girlfriend. He stated that the two of them smoked pot together that morning and that he gave him “fatherly advice”, CNN reported. Allegedly, Routh left abruptly because Kyle and Littlefield had arrived to take him to the shooting range, so it could lead the jury to believe that Routh was under the influence of drugs during the time of the murder.
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The prosecution claims that because of these particular acts taking place the morning of February 2, 2013, that Routh knew the difference between right and wrong, despite the diagnoses of mental disorders.
Park Dietz, a forensic psychiatrist, states that the testimony could show that Routh deliberately put himself in that violent state of mind. If this point is shown, then the defense will have an even tougher time proving that Routh was insane.
Currently, the jury has 3 options: find him guilty for the murders, find him not guilty by reason of insanity, or find him not guilty. If he is found not guilty, the State of Texas could still commit him to a mental hospital for life, since criminal code allows for civil proceedings to commence if a defendant is found not guilty by reason of insanity.
The prosecution rested its case on Tuesday, February 17, but not before playing a clip of a phone call between Routh and a reporter of The New Yorker, which quoted Routh saying, “I had to take care of business, I took care of business, and then I got in the truck and left.
Information was gathered from ABC News, People Magazine, CNN, Associated Press, The New York Times, Washington Post, Fox News, Dallasnews.com to provide a comprehensive overview of the case.