Erath DA issues statement on Routh verdict

Special to the Current

Erath County District Attorney Alan Nash with a crime scene photo.

Erath County District Attorney Alan Nash with a photo offered into evidence. 

Text of Erath County District Attorney’s Alan Nash statement following the Eddie Ray Routh trial verdict:

An Erath County Jury took just over two hours last night to find Eddie Ray Routh guilty of the capital murder of Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield. The jury rejected the defendant’s claim that he was legally insane at the time of the offense and therefore, not criminally responsible for the crime.

Judge Jason Cashon sentenced the defendant immediately to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Routh, age 27, a resident of Lancaster, Texas, shot and killed Kyle and Littlefield at the Rough Creek Lodge sport shooting range on February 2, 2013. Routh’s mother had approached Kyle to help her son, who was having problems adjusting to civilian life after his discharge from the Marines in 2010. Kyle and Littlefield, who were friends and neighbors, often helped veterans by engaging them in sports and outdoor activities.

Routh shot Chad Littlefield a total of six times, including in his back, head and face. Routh ambushed Chris Kyle, shooting the American Sniper author six times in the back. Routh told authorities that he “waited for the opportune time” to shoot Kyle, by waiting until Kyle had finished discharging his weapon at a target at the range.

Routh offered differing and at times conflicting versions of his motive to kill the two men. He told an Erath County Sheriff’s deputy that he killed the two men because he became irritated and offended that they wouldn’t talk to him while on the ride to Rough Creek Lodge. Routh told a magazine reporter that he was angry that Littlefield was not shooting at the range, but was just watching the others shoot. Routh told a forensic psychiatrist that his anger was directed mainly at Littlefield, and that “he knew that if he’d just shot Littlefield, Kyle would shoot him, therefore, he needed to kill them both.”

Although Routh, who never saw military combat, was receiving benefits from the Veterans’ Administration for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), all three doctors who evaluated him for trial, including the defense expert, agreed that he does not have PTSD. Defense attorneys for Routh claimed he was legally insane at the time of the offense. Texas law requires that a defendant must prove that, at the time of the crime, he has a “severe mental disease or defect” which caused him to not know that his conduct was wrong.

A forensic psychologist, Dr. Randall Price, Ph.D., testified that the defendant did not have a severe mental illness, but rather, was a heavy marijuana and alcohol user, even smoking marijuana and drinking the morning of the crime, and clearly knew his conduct was wrong. Dr, Michael Arambula, M.D., Pharm.D., a forensic psychiatrist and pharmacist, agreed that Routh was intoxicated at the time of the crime, was not insane, and knew his conduct was wrong.

Both doctors opined that the defendant’s claims of insanity were highly suspicious, given his track record of claiming a mental illness or PTSD to get out of trouble. Routh had previously threatened to shoot his family and held a girlfriend and her roommate at knifepoint. When police were called, family members convinced police to transport Routh to a psychiatric hospital instead of jail. Records showed at each hospitalization, Routh tested positive for illegal drug use.

“The biggest fallacy of this trial is that Eddie Routh committed this brutal crime because of PTSD. Many members of the armed services who have honorably served our country have every right to receive services for PTSD. But to claim that PTSD causes a person to commit murder is a disservice both to veterans and those who suffer from mental illness,” said Nash.

“This trial was a team effort of multiple law enforcement agencies, including the Texas Rangers Division, Erath County Sheriff’s Office, Stephenville Police Department, Somervell Sheriff’s Office, the Department of Public Safety, Lancaster Police Department, Midlothian Police Department, and NCIS. So many investigators and officers put in countless hours on this case, and were dedicated to the successful prosecution. The public is safer because of good law enforcement work.

“I am also grateful to the Attorney General’s Office for assisting in this prosecution. When Assistant Attorney General Jane Starnes responded to our request for assistance, I knew we would be well prepared for trial. Now that I’ve worked alongside Ms. Starnes in preparing and presenting this important case, there is no doubt that Jane Starnes is one of the premier prosecutors in the State of Texas,” said Nash.

“We also wish to commend Sheriff (Tommy) Bryant and his office, Chief (Shay) King and the Stephenville Police Department, District Clerk Wanda Pringle and her staff, and all the county officials and law enforcement agencies from around the region who assisted in making this a secure, orderly, and fair trial for both the state and the defendant,” said Nash.

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