By Emily Bracey –
Eddie Ray Routh spends most days and nights in virtual isolation, under 24/7 video surveillance, occasionally meeting lawyers, signing legal documents or trying without success to barter with sheriff deputies for a smoke.
Every 15 minutes, a jailer checks his cell, making sure the man accused of killing former Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield is still alive.
Security is so tight that when Routh makes his first court appearance, he probably won’t physically be present, says Erath County Sheriff Tommy Bryant.
Bryant, whose office responded to the double murder 911 call on Feb. 2, says he’s making plans to have Routh appear at an arrangement by satellite to minimize the risk that someone might harm him. Bryant provided details about Routh’s life in the jail during an interview in his office.
“We’ve already made precautions with the district courthouse that when he does have to have his first arraignment by the district judge, we are going to try to get that done via satellite so that …we don’t have to take him outside of the cell, outside of the jail walls,” Bryant said. “There will come a time, I would assume, that he will have to go to court, whether it is to do a plea bargain or to go to trial. And when that happens we are going to have to be awfully cautious of how we get him there and how we get him back.”
Routh was arrested Feb. 2 after fleeing Rough Creek Lodge in Kyle’s pickup. He’s being held on $3 million bond on a capital murder and two murder charges.
Bryant said his staff was flooded with phone calls from reporters around the world about the shooting.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone in my jail that has brought this much attention to my office and Erath County,” he said.
Bryant said he decided to ask for help from state investigators, since this investigation comes after another, unrelated murder case from a few days before his department is still investigating.
“I’ve asked the [Texas] Rangers to take the lead,” he said. “And we will assist them in any way that we can. That way we can continue to focus on the other investigation.”
Routh’s family says he has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“There for a while,” Bryant said, “he would go for a day that he would take his medication and then go for a day when he would refuse his medication.”
Some days he had refused visitors.
“His attorney wanted to see him and he said ‘no’ and then his family came to see him and he said, ‘no’ and that’s when he demanded, ‘well if you’ll give me a cigarette then I’ll come out and visit with my lawyer and my family,’ and we said no that’s not going to happen,” Bryant recalled.
At other times, Routh has been aggressive, Bryant said. In one incident, officers used a Taser after Routh refused to follow orders.
Bryant said that jailers had just “fed the inmates dinner” and when they asked for Routh to give them the tray he refused.
“He refused to do it, and said ‘If you want it, come get it.’ They asked him several times,” Bryant said.
“[The jailers] warned him that if he didn’t comply with their orders that they would tase him. And when they opened the cell door to go in and physically get the tray, he became aggressive and that’s when they had to tase him.”
In another incident in which he refused to return a pen, officers warned they would use their Taser again.
“This time when the red dot was shining on his chest he decided he didn’t want to get tased again over the pen.”
Bryant, like others, is waiting to see where the Ranger investigation leads, how Routh’s court-appointed attorneys handle the case, and whether Erath County’s most notorious inmate will plead insanity.
“Who knows,” Bryant said. “Who knows.”