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Eddie Ray Routh Found Guilty In 'American Sniper' Murder Trial

The judge sentenced Routh to life in prison without the possibility of parole after the jury deliberated for less than two and a half hours and rejected Routh's insanity defense.

by VICE News
Feb 25 2015, 4:55am

Photo par LM Otero/AP

After a 9-day trial, a Texas jury found former Marine Eddie Ray Routh guilty of murdering Chris Kyle — the former Navy SEAL whose autobiography was adapted into the blockbuster film American Sniper — and Kyle's friend Chad Littlefield.

Routh admitted to killing Kyle and Littlefield during a trip to a gun range in February 2013 but pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, claiming he was mentally disturbed and experiencing psychosis at the time of the shooting. The jury — comprised of 10 women and two men — rejected Routh's defense after deliberating for less than two and a half hours.

Though Routh, 27, was charged with capital murder, prosecutors did not seek the death penalty in the case. Minutes after the jury delivered the guilty verdict, the judge sentenced Routh to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Trial of 'American Sniper' killer reignites debate over psychological wounds of war. Read more here. 

Routh claimed he believed that Kyle and Littlefield were "some kind of pig assassins, or hybrid pigs sent to kill people," but experts for the prosecution testified that Routh likely concocted his story during his time in jail by watching an episode of Seinfeld in which the character Kramer makes similar remarks. The experts, a psychologist and a forensic psychiatrist, said Routh was drunk and high when he shot Kyle in the back and knew full well what he was doing.

Kyle rose to fame as America's deadliest sniper by killing at least 160 people during a decade of tours in Iraq. He struggled to readjust to civilian life, but dedicated himself to helping veterans who were having a hard time with the same process — including Routh. Kyle and Littlefield took Routh to the gun range in hopes of helping him cope with his troubles.

The verdict in the case came just two days after the movie American Sniper — starring Bradley Cooper as Kyle — was nominated for several Academy Awards, including Best Picture. According to the New York Times, Kyle's widow, Taya Kyle, attended the Oscars ceremony Sunday night in Los Angeles and was in the courtroom in Stephenville, about 100 miles southwest of Dallas, when the verdict was read Tuesday.