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Experts Testify That 'American Sniper' Killer Was Drunk and High — Not Insane

Two doctors testified Friday that Eddie Ray Routh knew full well what he was doing when he killed former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and another man.

by Olivia Becker
Feb 21 2015, 10:16pm

Photo via AP/LM Otero, Pool

Up until Friday, Eddie Ray Routh's defense for shooting Chris Kyle, the former Navy SEAL whose autobiography was adapted into the film American Sniper, rested on the claim that he was insane and therefore not responsible for his actions. That defense seemingly fell to pieces yesterday when two doctors testified that Routh was drunk and high at the time of shootings and knew full well what he was doing.

Dr. Randall Price, a psychologist, and Dr. Michael Arambula, a forensic psychiatrist, both interviewed Routh extensively and determined that he was faking a mental illness to get out of jail time. According to the Associated Press, Price testified that Routh "did know what he was doing and did it anyway."

Routh, a 27-year-old former Marine corporal, has been charged with capital murder for killing Kyle and another man, Chad Littlefield, on a Texas shooting range two years ago.

A forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Mitchell Dunn, testified Thursday for the defense and said Routh suffered from schizophrenia and psychosis, a claim that Arambula and Price refuted the following day.

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Dunn said Routh told him that Kyle and Littlefield were "some kind of pig assassins, or hybrid pigs sent to kill people." But Price pointed out that Routh likely made this up to seem more insane. The claim was likely inspired by a Seinfeld episode in which Kramer says he saw a pig man in a hospital, Price testified, since Routh regularly watches Seinfeld in jail. 

According to the AP, the doctors hired by the prosecution told the court that Routh has a "paranoid disorder" that was exacerbated by drugs and alcohol and therefore did not meet the state's legal definition for insanity.

"Any time intoxication is present, the game is over," Arambula reportedly testified. 

Price said that Routh's scattered and paranoid behavior was likely caused by a "cannabis-induced psychosis."

This would not be the first time that Routh faked a mental illness to escape jail time. The prosecution pointed out two other incidents where Routh had become violent and then claimed he was insane once the police were called. The incidents occurred in September 2012 when he threatened to kill his family, and in January 2013 when he threatened his girlfriend with a knife.

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The doctors said these incidents add to the argument that Routh is likely sane because, as Arambula pointed out, "people with a severe mental illness have difficulty saying that they do."

According to the Dallas Morning News, testimony is expected to resume Monday and closing arguments could come as early as Tuesday. The prosecution is seeking a life sentence without the possibility of parole. 

Follow Olivia Becker on Twitter: @obecker928