Wednesday 21 February 2018

Life in prison for murderer of 'American Sniper' hero Kyle

Rachael Alexander

A former Marine has been convicted in the deaths of 'American Sniper' author Chris Kyle and Kyle's friend at a shooting range.

The trial of Eddie Ray Routh had drawn intense interest, in part because of the blockbuster Oscar-nominated film based on former Navy Seal Chris Kyle's memoir about his four tours in Iraq.

Chris Kyle in a video grab
Chris Kyle in a video grab

Since prosecutors did not seek the death penalty in the capital murder case, the 27-year-old receives an automatic life sentence without parole in the deaths of Kyle and Kyle's friend, Chad Littlefield.

The prosecution painted Routh as a troubled drug user who knew right from wrong, despite any mental illnesses. While trial testimony and evidence often included Routh making odd statements and referring to insanity, he also confessed several times, apologised for the crimes and tried to evade police.

Criminal law experts said the verdict hinged on whether the defence could prove Routh was insane and did not know the killings were wrong at the time they were committed.

Jurors had three options: find Routh guilty of capital murder, find him not guilty, or find him not guilty by reason of insanity. If found not guilty by reason of insanity, the court could have initiated proceedings to have him committed to a state mental hospital.

Kyle and Littlefield had taken Routh to the shooting range at Rough Creek Lodge and Resort on February 2, 2013, after Routh's mother asked Kyle to help her troubled son. Family members say Routh suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder from serving in Iraq and in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake.

A forensic psychologist testified for prosecutors that Routh was not legally insane and suggested some of his ideas may have come from the television shows he was watching.

Dr Randall Price said Routh had a paranoid disorder made worse by his use of alcohol and marijuana, calling his condition "cannabis-induced psychosis."

Defence lawyers noted that Kyle had described Routh as "straight-up nuts" in a text message to Littlefield as they drove to the luxury resort.

Among evidence entered by prosecutors was a recorded phone call between Routh and a reporter from 'The New Yorker' magazine in which Routh said he was annoyed Littlefield wasn't shooting, but instead seemed to be watching him.

"Are you gonna shoot? Are you gonna shoot? It's a shooting sport. You shoot," Routh said in the phone call. "That's what got me all riled up."

The defence said Routh, who had been prescribed anti-psychotic medication often used for schizophrenia, believed the men planned to kill him.

"I had to take care of business. I took care of business, and then I got in the truck and left," Routh said in the phone call. A resort employee discovered the bodies of Kyle and Littlefield about 5pm; each had been shot several times.

Irish Independent

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