By Travis M. Smith and Chance Bragg—
Additional reporting by Megan Andrews, Bethann Coldiron, Denise Harroff, Bethany Kyle, and Katy Tonkin
Eddie Ray Routh was convicted Tuesday at 9:20 p.m. of two counts of capital murder for the shooting deaths of ‘American Sniper’ Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield. The jury, consisting of 10 women and 2 men found that the prosecution proved beyond any reasonable doubt that Routh was aware of his actions when he took the two men’s lives. Routh will serve a life sentence without the possibility of parole in a Texas prison.
After the conviction, the family was given the opportunity to give a statement to Routh in the courtroom. Littlefield’s brother, Jerry Richardson, called him “an American disgrace.”
“You wanted to be a Marine, a real man, but you destroyed the opportunity by committing a senseless act,” said Richardson.
The only person to give a statement to the press after was Judy Littlefield. “We waited for two years for
God to get justice for us on behalf of our son,” she said on the courthouse steps.
Routh rode with Kyle and Littlefield to Rough Creek Lodge in Erath, County just after noon on Feb. 2, 2013. Kyle, who suffered from PTSD, previously met with Routh’s mother, Jodi, at the elementary school his children attended and told her that he would “love to do any and everything to help” her son. Jodi said that in that in retrospect she should have told Kyle of her son’s short temper and threats to the lives of himself and others. “I was just trying to find help for my son,” Jodi Routh told prosecutors.
At approximately 4:30 p.m., Routh shot Littlefield in the back first twice, then Littlefield dropped to his knees he then shot him in the hand, and Littlefield then rolled onto his back. Then Routh turned on Kyle before turning back to Littlefield, shooting him in the face and then the top of the head. “OK, we are shooting pistols here. I guess it’s a duel. It was the smell in the air, it smelled like shit. That’s when I took care of business, got in the truck, put in a dip and left,” Routh told a reporter from The New Yorker magazine during his incarceration.
“This case is basically two cases to me. He was intoxicated at the time of the incident and anytime intoxication is present the game is over,” Dr. Michael R. Arambula, a forensic psychologist and President of the Texas Medical board testified. “Even if he was to have a severe mental disease, when he becomes intoxicated the game is over. There has been a lot of emphasis placed on his speech by the defense. His actions speak louder than words. I’m comfortable with my evaluation. All along I believed everyone to be treating him with a mood disorder (…) and I left with that same belief.”
Routh claimed responsibility for the two murders on more than one occasion. While being held in the Erath County jail, Routh again admitted to the crimes.
“I shot them because they wouldn’t talk to me. I was just riding in the backseat of the truck and they wouldn’t talk to me. They were just taking me to the range so I shot them. I’m sure they forgive me,” Routh said during a routine range-of-motion activity being performed by two officers and observed by Officer Gene Cole on June 22, 2013.
After leaving the gun range in Kyle’s pick-up, Routh made three stops. The first, at his Uncle James Watson’s house in Alvarado, where Routh told Watson “I’m driving a dead man’s truck.” He then went to the home of his sister and her husband, Laura and Gaines Blevins. Routh told the two he had killed “Chris Kyle and his friend” and was “going to Oklahoma to get out of this mess.”
Routh then returned to his family’s home in Lancaster where Lancaster police were waiting on him. He led them on a high-speed chase after they attempted to get him to exit Kyle’s truck. The truck came to a stop after being disabled by a police car, and Routh surrendered immediately.
The trial began on Feb. 11 with the opening statements and testimony from Taya Kyle, the widow of Chris Kyle, and Judy Littlefield, Chad Littlefield’s mother. The trial lasted nine days and included testimony from several Texas Rangers, ballistics experts, and police officers, as well as Routh’s mother, uncle, sister, and former fiancé. The jury deliberated for about two and a half hours before finding Routh guilty of the two murders.