A Texas jury found Eddie Ray Routh guilty of capital murder in the shooting deaths of Chris Kyle, the soldier whose biography was the basis of Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-nominated film American Sniper, and Chad Littlefield at a gun range in February 2013. Routh was sentenced to life in prison without parole, the New York Times reports. State prosecutors previously announced they would not seek the death penalty.
Routh had shot Kyle, whose reputation as the military’s most prolific sniper and subsequent difficulties acclimating to civilian life were detailed in his biography American Sniper, and Littlefield over a dozen times. The pair had brought Routh to a gun range to help the former marine deal with his own post-traumatic stress disorder.
During the trial, Routh’s lawyers made no attempts to prove that the defendant wasn’t responsible for the shootings; they admitted that Routh killed Kyle and Littlefield. Instead, Routh’s lawyers were angling for a “not guilty by reason of insanity” plea, arguing that Routh’s continued struggles with PTSD and paranoid schizophrenia caused him to misconstrue the friendly trip to the shooting range as an attempt on Routh’s own life.
However, the jury disagreed with the insanity plea for numerous reasons: Not only did Routh stop for Taco Bell following the shooting, showing that he was rational after the murders, he also told police in a post-arrest interview that he recognized that he had done something wrong. One psychologist that examined Routh said the defendant’s strange concerns about “pig people” were actually cribbed from Seinfeld, and that Routh’s claims of digging mass graves in Haiti and his Iraqi combat record were likely false. Two more prosecution experts testified that Routh was not insane, and the jury ultimately agreed, needing only two-and-a-half hours to unanimously agree on a guilty charge.
According to the Guardian, Chris Kyle’s widow Taya Kyle, who attended the Academy Awards Sunday night in support of American Sniper, left midway through the defense’s closing arguments because she was upset by their argument; she did not return to hear the guilty verdict when it was read hours later.