The American Sniper Guilty Verdict
Eddie Ray Routh, a former Marine, will face life in prison for the shooting deaths of Chris Kyle and one other.
It took a jury less than three hours to deliver a guilty verdict in the case of Eddie Ray Routh, a 27-year-old former Marine, who shot and killed Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield two years ago this month. Defense lawyers had sought to convince jurors that Routh was schizophrenic, suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, and was in the midst of a psychotic episode when he fatally opened fire on the two men at a Texas shooting range.
The trial garnered national headlines in large part because it followed the release of the controversial Clint Eastwood blockbuster American Sniper, which was based on Chris Kyle's memoir about his four tours of duty in Iraq. The film, as the AFP noted, "has so far earned more than $320 million to become the highest grossing war film in history."
Prosecutors were not seeking the death penalty in the case against Routh, which set three possible outcomes for the verdict: Routh would be found guilty and would be sentenced to life in prison without parole or Routh would be found not guilty or not guilty by reason of insanity.
One challenge for the defense came in the form of Texas' narrow standard for legal insanity: “It is an affirmative defense to prosecution that, at the time of the conduct charged, the actor, as a result of severe mental disease or defect, did not know that his conduct was wrong.”
As many outlets reported last week, Routh's defense was thought to be imperiled by a statement he made during a videotaped confession in which he responded affirmatively when a Texas Ranger asked him: “You know what you did today is wrong, right?”
Following Tuesday's announcement, Texas Governor Greg Abbott was among the many to tweet approval of the verdict:
JUSTICE! Chris Kyle's killer convicted of capital murder. Jury didn't buy insanity defense. #AmericanSniper #ChrisKyletrial— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) February 25, 2015