Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The American Sniper Shooting

Routh Convicted for Rough Creek Shooting
Elise Hansell

The murder trial of Eddie Ray Routh came to a close on Tuesday afternoon in Stephenville, Texas. Routh was convicted of the first-degree murder of former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, 38 and Chad Littlefield, 35. The shooting took place at Rough Creek Lodge and Resort, where Kyle would spend time with veterans, taking them to a rifle range that he helped to design. Oftentimes these veterans struggled from mental disorders or PTSD.

The defense argued that Routh should be found not guilty because he suffered from psychosis at the time of the shooting. The defense presented the evidence that Routh had been hospitalized four times in two years, and was released just a week before the February 2, 2013 killing. Reasons for his hospitalization included diagnoses of psychotic disorder, depression, and substance abuse. However, the mental state of Routh was disputed during the trial with a number of psychologists testifying that Routh did not meet the definition of legal insanity (because he knew what he did was wrong). Instead, psychologists claimed he was affected by alcohol and cannabis abuse, ultimately aggravating his paranoid disorder. Despite this dispute, only a preponderance of evidence is necessary in a finding of insanity.

The killing of Kyle was viewed as a national tragedy, which greatly affected the Stephenville area.  Partly due to Kyle’s notoriety as the “deadliest sniper in American History” thousands attended his memorial service, which was held at the Cowboy’s Stadium. In addition to this public mourning, the release of the blockbuster film, “American Sniper” on January 16,, 2015 preceded the start date of the trial, on February 9, 2015. It is highly likely that a number of jurors viewed this film, which presents a character sketch of Kyle. The film ends with Kyle waving goodbye to his wife and children as he gets in a pick-up truck with Routh.

Mr. Routh’s lawyers tried to postpone the trial and move it out of Erath County, but this request was denied.

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