Jurors say ex-Marine convicted of killing ’American Sniper’ author Kyle knew right from wrong

Jurors who rejected an insanity defence and convicted a former Marine in the deaths of famed “American Sniper” author Chris Kyle and his friend said Wednesday the man’s past behaviour undermined his argument that he couldn’t tell right from wrong.

STEPHENVILLE, Texas — Jurors who rejected an insanity defence and convicted a former Marine in the deaths of famed “American Sniper” author Chris Kyle and his friend said Wednesday the man’s past behaviour undermined his argument that he couldn’t tell right from wrong.

After a two-week trial in which jurors heard testimony about defendant Eddie Ray Routh’s erratic behaviour, including statements about anarchy, the apocalypse and pig-human hybrids, they convicted him Tuesday night in the deaths of Kyle and Chad Littlefield at a Texas shooting range two years ago.

Juror Christina Yeager told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that Routh displayed a similar pattern in prior run-ins with police — he would become intoxicated and then tell responding officers he was a victim of post-traumatic stress disorder. “Every time something bad happened he pulled that card,” Yeager said.

Barrett Hutchinson said jurors were not convinced by the claim that Routh was having a psychotic episode when he shot the men.

“He knew the consequences of pulling the trigger,” Hutchinson said.

Routh showed no reaction as a judge sentenced him to life in prison without parole, an automatic sentence since prosecutors didn’t seek the death penalty in the capital murder case. As one of his victim’s siblings called him an “American disgrace” shortly after, Routh looked back at the man intensely.

The verdict capped an emotional trial in which prosecutors painted the 27-year-old as a troubled drug user who knew right from wrong, despite any mental illnesses. Defence attorneys said he suffered from schizophrenia and was suffering from a psychotic episode at the time of the shootings. Routh’s defence team said they would appeal.

While trial testimony and evidence often included Routh making odd statements and referring to insanity, he also confessed several times, apologized for the crimes and tried to evade police after the crime.

“You took the lives of two heroes, men who tried to be a friend to you,” Chad Littlefield’s half brother Jerry Richardson told Routh after the verdict. “And you became an American disgrace.”

Routh’s trial drew intense interest, in part because of the blockbuster film based on former Navy SEAL Kyle’s memoir about his four tours in Iraq. Warner Bros., the studio that produced the film, declined to comment on the verdict.

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.

“We’re so thrilled that we have the verdict that we have tonight,” Littlefield’s mother, Judy Littlefield, said outside the courthouse.

The Littlefield family had waited “two years for God to get justice for us,” she said. “He was faithful.”

Kyle’s widow, Taya Kyle, left the courtroom during the defence’s closing statements earlier in the day and did not return when the verdict was read. Chris Kyle’s brother and parents were among a group hugging and crying inside the courtroom after the verdict was read. They did not issue a statement.

Richardson and Littlefield’s father, Don Littlefield, were the only two people to give statements in court. Don Littlefield told Routh that even though his son never served in the military, he was honoured to help those who did. “He was trying to help you,” he told Routh.

Kyle and Littlefield had taken Routh to the shooting range at Rough Creek Lodge and Resort on Feb. 2, 2013, after Routh’s mother asked Kyle to help her troubled son. Family members say Routh suffered from PTSD from serving in Iraq and in Haiti after a devastating 2010 earthquake.

Richardson told Routh his PTSD claims “have been an insult to every veteran who served with honour.”

Routh’s mother, Jodi Routh, who was questioned by prosecutors about why she didn’t warn Kyle of her son’s mental troubles, sat expressionless in the courtroom as the verdict was read.

A forensic psychologist testified for prosecutors that Routh was not legally insane and suggested he may have gotten some of his ideas from television. 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 attorneys noted that Kyle had described Routh as “straight-up nuts” in a text message to Littlefield as they drove to the luxury resort. They said Routh, who had been prescribed anti-psychotic medication often used for schizophrenia, believed the men planned to kill him.

Asked by a reporter for The New Yorker magazine in a jailhouse call if he thought about the day he shot the men, Routh replied, “It tore my (expletive) heart out when I did it,” later adding, “I guess you live and you learn, you know.”

A resort employee discovered the bodies of Kyle and Littlefield about 5 p.m. that day. About 45 minutes later, authorities say Routh pulled up to his sister’s home in Kyle’s truck and told her he had killed two people.

She called police, who later located Routh sitting in front of his home in the truck. A police video showed officers trying to coax him from the truck.

“He told us he’d taken a couple of souls and he had more souls to take,” Lancaster police Lt. Michael Smith testified.

Just Posted

Red Deer respiratory therapist Sarah MacKenzie was among the first central Alberta health professionals to receive the Pfizer vaccine in December 2020. Since then, nearly 3.4 million doses have been administered and COVID cases are falling rapidly. Photo by Alberta Health Services
Red Deer COVID cases continue to fall sharply

Red Deer cases almost into the double digits after topping more than 900 only five weeks ago

(Advocate file photo.)
Red Deer city council discusses strategies to restore integrated emergency dispatching

Red Deer city councillors discussed additional ways on Tuesday to try to… Continue reading

Local developers who are doing building upgrades or new construction will face less land servicing costs and gain some flexibility. (File photo by Advocate staff)
From left: Montana First Nation councillor Reggie Rabbit, Samson Cree Nation councillor Louise Omeasoo, Samson Cree Nation councillor Katherine Swampy, Samson Cree Nation councillor Shannon Buffalo and Samson Cree Nation chief Vern Saddleback were present during the painting of the Maskwacis Pride crosswalk. (Contributed photo)
Being gay made him contemplate suicide: Councillor in Maskwacis opens up

Maskwacis got a bit mote colourful over the weekend. Volunteers spent Saturday… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

The Pornhub website is shown on a computer screen in Toronto on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. Pornhub says it has removed all content uploaded by non-verified users. The sex website faced accusations it hosted illegal content. The company, which is owned by Montreal-based Mindgeek, says it has suspended all previously uploaded content that was not created by one of its content partners or members of its Model Program. THE CANADIAN PRESS
International women’s rights advocates call on Canada to hold Pornhub to account

Jeanette Westbrook says being sexually abused as a child will haunt her… Continue reading

FILE - In this Jan. 9, 2021 file photo, transporters Miguel Lopez, right, Noe Meza prepare to move a body of a COVID-19 victim to a morgue at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills section of Los Angeles. The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 has topped 600,000, even as the vaccination drive has drastically slashed daily cases and deaths and allowed the country to emerge from the gloom. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
US COVID-19 deaths hit 600,000, equal to yearly cancer toll

The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 topped 600,000 on Tuesday, even as… Continue reading

FILE - In this April 1, 2019 file photo, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry talks about health care legislation he's backing in the upcoming session, in Baton Rouge, La. The Biden administration’s suspension of new oil and gas leases on federal land and water was blocked Tuesday by a federal judge in Louisiana. U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty's ruling came in a lawsuit filed in March by Louisiana’s Republican attorney general, Jeff Landry and officials in 12 other states. (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte, File)
Federal judge blocks Biden’s pause on new oil, gas leases

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Biden administration’s suspension of new oil and… Continue reading

Israeli police officers detain a Palestinian man during clashes that erupted ahead of a planned march by Jewish ultranationalists through east Jerusalem, outside Jerusalem's Old City, Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
Israelis march in east Jerusalem in test for new government

JERUSALEM (AP) — Hundreds of Israeli ultranationalists, some chanting “Death to Arabs,”… Continue reading

Montreal Canadiens right wing Brendan Gallagher (11) vies for the puck with Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (7) during the third period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Vets Pietrangelo, Perry contributing for Vegas, Montreal

LAS VEGAS — Alex Pietrangelo and Corey Perry had very different free… Continue reading

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jake Allen stands for the national anthem prior to an NHL hockey game against the Calgary Flames in Montreal, Saturday, January 30, 2021. Public health experts say Quebec should wait until more people have received a second dose of COVID-19 before increasing the number of fans allowed to attend Montreal Canadiens home games. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Quebec to increase arena capacity before first home game in Habs playoff series

MONTREAL — Quebec will increase the number of people allowed to attend… Continue reading

New CFL balls are photographed at the Winnipeg Blue Bombers stadium in Winnipeg, Thursday, May 24, 2018. Halifax regional council will consider today a new report on a proposed 24,000-seat stadium, the pivotal component of a bid to land a Canadian Football League team for the East Coast's largest city.THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Most Read