Convicted on Murder Charges, “American Sniper” Killer Will Spend Life in Prison
The man who killed “American Sniper” Chris Kyle, a 38-year-old former Navy SEAL, and his friend, Chad Littlefield, 35, has been sentenced to life in prison, convicted on murder charges related to a “rifle range rampage.”
Eddie Ray Routh, a 27-year-old former Marine, was convicted on capital murder charges on Tuesday, February 24th, for the February 2013 murder incident. Routh pleaded not guilty due to psychosis, schizophrenia, and other mental illnesses, which he had been diagnosed with a few years prior to the incident. The week before the murders, Routh had been released from psychiatric treatment. However, the Texas jury returned a guilty verdict, stating that they believed Routh was competent to be held accountable for his actions.
Kyle and Littlefield were contacted in 2013 by Routh’s mother, who was concerned for her son’s mental health and wanted him to have some contact with other former veterans, believing that they could help. The three drove 90 miles to a gun range, where Routh fatally shot both victims, and took some of the guns, which Kyle owned, with him. He then fled in Kyle’s pickup truck to his sister’s house, where he admitted that he had just murdered two people, and his sister called the police.
Chris Kyle is currently considered the most deadly sniper in Navy SEAL history, and his memoir “American Sniper” was turned into a massively successful movie that was even nominated for Oscars. Kyle’s sudden popularity just before and then after his death could have contributed to the jury’s lack of sympathy, but US juries have a history of being unsympathetic to pleas of insanity.
Jane Campbell Moriarty, editor of “Mental Illness in Criminal Trials,” says that the US Justice System has struggled for decades to incorporate the latest findings on mental instability and criminal insanity, especially among violent criminals and war veterans. A 2006 Bureau of Justice Statistics report shows that 1.3 million US inmates suffer from some form of mental illness, which could contribute to their violent behavior.
“It sounds like [Routh] had a very high level of mental illness and that he was mis-perceiving reality in a very substantive way,” said Professor Moriarty, a law professor at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. “However, we have a long history as humans of disliking the insanity defense” because people equate the plea with “getting away with murder.”
“He didn’t kill those men because of who he wanted to be, he killed those men because he had a delusion,” Routh’s attorney said. “He thought that they were going to kill him.”
Despite evidence of Routh’s ongoing mental instability, however, the jury ruled that Routh was conscious of right and wrong, and that his violent murders were premeditated.
The Strom Law Firm Defends SC Violent Crimes Charges, Convicted Murder Charges
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