Eddie Ray Routh, a former Marine Corps veteran, was found guilty of murdering Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield in 2013 at a shooting range in Texas.
Kyle, a former Navy SEAL and the author of the bestselling autobiography “American Sniper,” had offered to take Routh to a shooting range to help with his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition Routh had been experiencing after leaving the military.
Kyle had been approached by Routh’s mother for help and regularly worked with other veterans.
During the trial, a confession tape was played in which Routh explained why he shot both men. He believed that Kyle and Littlefield were “headhunters, trying to hunt everybody down.”
Routh had admitted to knowing that it was wrong to kill them and expressed regret.
His attorneys argued that he was insane at the time of the murders, while witnesses for the prosecution stated that they suspected he was faking schizophrenia.
Prosecutors decided not to pursue the death penalty, and the judge sentenced him to life in prison with no possibility of parole.
Kyle’s widow, Taya, was the first witness called during the trial. She said her husband was renowned for his skills as a sniper and serviceman.
Taya knew something was wrong when she spoke to him by phone at the shooting range, adding that Kyle was quick on the phone, likely to avoid letting Routh know of his irritation.
She texted him but received no response. Later, a police officer came to her house to say that officers were searching for her husband’s pickup truck.
Shortly after that, she learned her husband was dead.
During the trial, it was revealed that Kyle had texted a friend next to him in a pickup truck that Routh was “nuts.” Prosecutors told the jury of 10 women and two men in rural Erath County that Routh was aware of what he was doing and acted “knowingly and intentionally” when he gunned down Kyle and Littlefield.
The defense argued that Routh was in a paranoid psychotic episode and did not know his actions were wrong when he shot the two men.
They said Routh suffered from PTSD, which was caused by overseas deployments.
Staff at the lodge that housed the shooting range and emergency medical technicians said Littlefield’s body was found on a shooting platform, while Kyle was found a few yards away in the dirt.
Both were soaked in blood, and there were no signs of life.
Bonding over target practice helped Kyle discuss difficult matters with veterans trying to adjust to life after battle.