Defense attorneys for Eddie Ray Routh, accused of killing “American Sniper” author and Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield, continued to present their case on Wednesday, calling Routh’s former girlfriend and then his sister to testify. Routh has admitted killing the two men but has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
Routh is accused of shooting and killing Kyle and Littlefield at a shooting range in February 2013, where the two men had brought him to help work through the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) Routh was reported to had suffered since serving in the Iraq war and in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.
Routh’s sister, Laura Blevins, testified that Routh had come to her home after the killings, according to a report by KXAN. Blevins described Routh as being “almost in a daze” and said that he had admitted to her that he had killed the two men.
“He said he took their souls before they could take his,” said Blevins. “I asked him what he meant by that, and he said they were out to get him.”
Routh had stolen Kyle’s truck and driven it to his sister’s home. Blevins testified that when she saw the truck, she feared that he was telling the truth. She begged him to turn himself in, but he refused and left her home. Blevins and her husband then called the police, who later tracked down Routh and arrested him. Video from Routh’s arrest and jailhouse interview was played earlier in the trial.
As Breitbart Texas reported, evidence was also presented that Routh was on multiple anti-psychotic medications and had been hospitalized three times for mental health issues. On Wednesday, Blevins testified that she had distanced herself from Routh after his last hospitalization, out of fear that he posed a danger to her family. She also described his behavior that day as “not who I know as my brother,” according to a report by NBC News.
Routh’s former girlfriend, Jennifer Weed, also testified that, just a few days before he killed Kyle and Littlefield, he had exhibited bizarre, frightening behavior, including threatening her with a ninja sword, calling her a demon, and claiming that he heard voices and saw things that were not there.
Routh asked her to marry him the night before the killings, she said. She testified that they argued the next morning, and then Routh smoked marijuana while he waited for Kyle to show up for their planned outing to the shooting range.
Defense attorneys face an uphill battle to establish that Routh was legally insane at the time of the killings. “As in most cases where the insanity defense is raised, the odds of success are daunting,” criminal defense attorney Brian Wice told Breitbart Texas, “especially in this case where the victim is widely perceived to be a true American hero [like Kyle].”
Wice, who practices law in Houston, further explained how both sides would likely proceed with their strategy. “The defense will likely focus on a trio of factors: expert psychiatric testimony that the accused’s severe mental disease or defect precluded him from knowing that his conduct was wrong, lay testimony from the accused’s friends and family corroborating his protracted history of bizarre and seemingly inexplicable behavior, and the narrative that the facts of the case are the compelling barometer of the accused’s inability to distinguish right from wrong.”
“The prosecution will likely counter this evidence in rebuttal with its own psychiatric expert to show that not every degenerating mental disease or defect, including PTSD, rises to the level of insanity, especially where the accused exacerbates his mental state by using drugs and alcohol,” concluded Wice.
Kyle was a Navy SEAL and the most lethal sniper in American military history, serving four tours in Iraq. He received multiple commendations for his service before being honorably discharged from the Navy in 2009. A native Texan, Kyle was born in Odessa and returned to Texas after leaving the Navy. His memoir, American Sniper, was turned into a blockbuster film directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Bradley Cooper. To honor his life and service, Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared February 2nd to be Chris Kyle Day, as Breitbart Texas reported.
The trial is scheduled to reconvene on Thursday, with the defense planning to call mental health experts to testify. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty, so Routh is facing a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole, if he is convicted of capital murder. Breitbart Texas will continue to follow this story.
Lana Shadwick contributed to this report. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter @rumpfshaker.