A Texas jury has found Eddie Ray Routh guilty of capital murder in the shooting deaths of fellow veterans Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield. At the time of his murder, Chris Kyle had risen to national prominence with his bestselling memoir American Sniper. Recently adapted for film by Clint Eastwood, American Sniper was nominated for multiple Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor.
Routh’s lawyers never disputed their client’s involvement in the killings; instead, his legal team built their case around his being mentally unstable. “He believed in his mind that they were going to kill him,” said Routh’s attorney, J. Warren St. John, who urged the jury to find his client not guilty by reason of insanity.
Unswayed by the defense, jurors returned with guilty verdicts in under three hours. Judge Jason Cashon was similarly swift, immediately sentencing the former U.S. Marine to life without the possibility of parole. Littlefield’s mother, Judy Littlefield, expressed satisfaction at the verdict, saying, “We’ve waited two years for God to get justice for us on behalf of our son and, as always, God has proved to be faithful. We’re so thrilled that we have the verdict that we have tonight.”
A motive for the killings has never been clearly established, but the facts are that on February 2, 2013, Kyle and Littlefield took Routh to a Texas shooting range. The trip was intended to be a therapeutic exercise; both Littlefield and Kyle had been involved in charitable work helping veterans cope with post-traumatic stress disorder. Routh shot both men at the secluded range before fleeing the scene.