Wednesday 17 January 2018

Prosecution rests in sniper trial

Former US Marine Eddie Ray Routh during his murder trial in Texas (AP/Star-Telegram)
Former US Marine Eddie Ray Routh during his murder trial in Texas (AP/Star-Telegram)
The trial in Stephenville, Texas has generated intense interest (AP)

Prosecutors rested their case in the trial of a former US Marine charged with killing American Sniper author Chris Kyle and another man.

Eddie Ray Routh is accused of killing the former Navy SEAL and Mr Kyle's friend Chad Littlefield at a rural shooting range in February 2013.

Before resting, prosecutors in Stephenville, Texas, played a recorded phone call between Routh and a reporter from The New Yorker magazine in which Routh talks about the events, The Dallas Morning News reported.

"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 call.

Routh also said he was annoyed that Mr Littlefield was not shooting.

"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."

Mr Kyle served four tours in Iraq and made more than 300 kills as a sniper for SEAL Team 3, according to his own count. He earned two Silver Stars for valour.

After leaving the military, he volunteered with veterans facing mental health problems, often taking them shooting.

He wrote a best-selling memoir that was the basis for the box office smash American Sniper.

Routh, whose lawyers are mounting an insanity defence, has pleaded not guilty. The trial has drawn intense interest, partly because of an Oscar-nominated film based on Mr Kyle's memoir.

Mr Kyle and Mr Littlefield were taking Routh on the outing at the request of the troubled veteran's mother, Jodi Routh.

She said under cross-examination by prosecutors yesterday that she did not know Mr Kyle's plan.

Asked if she regretted not telling Mr Kyle of threats Routh had made to kill himself and his family, she said she just wanted help for him.

Family members say Routh suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder from serving in Iraq and in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake.

Defence lawyers say Routh, who was taking anti-psychotic medication, was insane when Mr Kyle and Mr Littlefield took the former Marine to the shooting range to provide support and camaraderie.

Routh, his lawyers say, believed the men planned to kill him.

"If I did not take down his soul, he was going to take down mine," Routh said of Mr Kyle in a videotaped confession showed in court on Monday.

Routh also said in the interview with Texas Ranger Danny Briley: "I'm just sorry for what I've done."

Prosecutors say Routh was a troubled drug user but that he knew right from wrong.

Criminal law experts say a verdict hinges on whether the defence can prove Routh was insane at the time and did not know the killings at a gun range constituted a crime.

Last week, a former deputy testified that he overheard Routh after he had been taken into custody say that he shot the men because they would not talk to him as the three drove together to the shooting range.

A Texas Ranger police officer has testified that authorities found marijuana, a near-empty bottle of whiskey and medication for schizophrenia while searching Routh's home after the shooting.

Press Association

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