By Alan Bean
The jury didn’t buy Eddie Ray Routh’s insanity defense and the legal experts weren’t surprised. To win at trial, Routh’s attorneys had to prove that the ex-marine didn’t understand that shooting Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield in the back was morally wrong.
It is difficult to know what was going on in Eddie Routh’s mind the day he gunned down two innocent men at an upscale firing range in suburban Dallas. Nicholas Schimdle’s “In the Crosshairs”, a carefully researched New Yorker piece written shortly after the murders, makes a strong case that Routh not only suffered from PTSD but was deeply depressed and delusional in the months leading up to the murders. But that wasn’t sufficient. As state witnesses repeatedly emphasized, a defendant can suffer from mental illness and still distinguish right from wrong.
It is likely, in fact, that Eddie Ray Routh killed Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield because he had taken a fancy to Kyle’s spanking new Ford F-350. Would a sane individual believe he could get away with a crime this brazen? Probably not. But even if Routh was too detached from reality to appreciate the consequences of his action, that wasn’t enough to convince the jury.
Moments after his arrest, Routh undermined an insanity defense by answering affirmatively when a state trooper asked him if he knew what he did was wrong.
Chris Kyle is widely regarded as a war hero in Stephenville, Texas and several jurors had recently seen American Sniper a Clint Eastwood biopic featured in packed theaters as the trial unfolded. Kyle’s widow attended the Academy Awards (where American Sniper lost the best-picture competition to Birdman) short days before testifying in Routh’s trial. (more…)