The prosecution continued its rebuttal case Tuesday in the trial of Eddie Ray Routh, who is accused of killing “American Sniper” Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield. Howard Ryan, a crime scene analyst, testified Tuesday morning about the crime scene and how the men were killed.
Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield were killed on February 2, 2013 at a shooting range, by Routh, a troubled veteran who they were trying to help. Routh has admitted to the killings, but has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, and his trial is expected to wrap up this week after being postponed Monday due to the ice storm in the area.
Ryan testified that he had analyzed the crime scene and blood patterns, and concluded that both men were killed quickly and at close range, according to a report by ABC News. Littlefield was killed first, said Ryan, from a shot to the head while he was on his knees, followed by Kyle.
Kyle was “definitely not facing the shooter,” said Ryan, and he “absolutely never saw this coming.” He also testified that Littlefield was shot from behind as well.
Joel Thomas, a CBS-DFW reporter, posted additional details from Ryan’s testimony on his twitter account. Ryan testified that Kyle was “immediately incapacitated” by the first two shots, and that Routh was six or seven feet away when he shot the two men.
According to Thomas, Ryan also testified that Littlefield was shot in the head after he was incapacitated on the ground, possibly on his knees or on his back, based on the bullet trajectories:
— Joel Thomas (@CBS11Joel) February 24, 2015
— Joel Thomas (@CBS11Joel) February 24, 2015
The prosecution also played some additional recordings of phone calls Routh made from jail. In one of those calls, Routh confirmed that he shot Littlefield first. The prosecution then rested its rebuttal case and the defense recalled Dr. Michael Dunn, the forensic psychiatrist who testified last week regarding Routh’s mental state at the time of the crime, for rebuttal testimony.
As Breitbart Texas reported, the standard under Texas law to prove an insanity defense is very high. Texas Penal Code Section 8.01 requires the defendant to prove that at the time of the crime, “as a result of severe mental disease or defect, [he] did not know that his conduct was wrong.”
In addition to Dunn, the defense has also presented testimony from Routh’s mother, former girlfriend, and sister, all of whom testified about his alarming and bizarre behavior. Routh’s defense attorneys also presented evidence that he was hospitalized twice in July 2011, once in September 2012, and for the last time in January 2013, being released just a week before the killings. Over the years, he had been diagnosed with a psychotic disorder, depression, marijuana and alcohol abuse, and had been prescribed multiple anti-psychotic medications.
The prosecution countered by presenting evidence that Routh’s time in the military did not include any actual combat. As Breitbart Texas reported, their experts pointed out a number of inconsistencies with Routh’s story, including ways he had seemed to be “setting the stage” to claim an insanity defense, statements he made that showed remorse or guilt, and a possible way that Routh may have drawn inspiration from television shows like “Seinfeld” to formulate his story. Both the defense and prosecution’s experts rejected claims that Routh was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at the time of the crime.
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.
Closing arguments by both sides are expected to begin soon, either late Tuesday or Wednesday morning, followed by jury deliberations. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty, and Routh is facing a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole, if he is convicted of capital murder. Breitbart Texas will continue to follow this story.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter @rumpfshaker.