A Texas jury has ruled that Eddie Ray Routh is guilty of murdering “American Sniper” Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield. Despite everyone agreeing Routh killed the men, defense attorneys claimed Routh was insane. Prosecutors claimed Routh knew the difference between right and wrong. Routh’s trial comes in the wake of the release of the film about Kyle, a former Navy SEAL who claimed to be the deadliest sniper in U.S. history, with 160 confirmed kills in Iraq. Jurors returned the verdict Tuesday against Eddie Ray Routh, whose attorneys had mounted an insanity defense and said he suffered from psychosis. Since prosecutors didn’t seek the death penalty in the capital murder case, the 27-year-old receives an automatic life sentence without parole in the deaths
Prosecutors said Routh was drinking and smoking marijuana, the morning he killed the Kyle and Littlefield. They argued he was paranoid because he was high and was angry about living with his parents, money, and his job. He then finally exploded after Kyle and Littlefield snubbed him. Kyle took his two friends to the range as a kind of therapy. The range is part of the 11,000 acre Rough Creek Lodge and the group was isolated from the rest of the Lodge. A hunting guide found Kyle, 38, and Littlefield, 35, who also was a veteran, motionless and called 911. The men were dead when officers arrived.
As the defense concluded their arguments, Kyle’s widow Taya Kyle, storming out of the courtroom, whispering an expletive and slamming the wall on her way out the door. Prosecutors highlighted the fact that Routh apologized to Kyle’s family as evidence of a guilty mind. “This defendant gunned down two men in cold blood, in the back, in our county. Find him guilty,” Erath County District Attorney Alan Nash said. Kyle made more than 300 kills as a sniper for SEAL Team 3, according to his own count. After leaving the military, he volunteered with veterans facing mental health problems, often taking them shooting.
Routh, 27, has admitted to the killings of the former Navy SEAL Kyle and his friend, Chad Littlefield, at a gun range in 2013 but pleaded not guilty. His attorneys and family members asserted that he suffers psychotic episodes caused by post-traumatic stress disorder and other factors. However, prosecutors argued that the “episodes” Routh suffers are self-induced through alcohol and marijuana abuse. Had Routh been found not guilty by reason of insanity, the state could have moved to have him committed.