American Sniper in Real Life
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Politics and Activism

American Sniper in Real Life

Inside the trial of Eddie Ray Routhe.

American Sniper in Real Life

Due to the extreme popularity of the movie American Sniper, people learned about the life of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. Specifically speaking, they learned about his death. In 2010 Kyle and his friend, Chad Littlefield, were shot and killed by a former Marine, Eddie Ray Routh while together at a shooting range -- something they often did to help veterans cope with PTSD or other mental health problems.

Around the same time the movie was released, the trial for Eddie Ray Routhe began in Erath County, Texas. Though Routhe openly admitted that he killed the two men, he pleaded not guilty, claiming he regularly suffered from psychotic attacks associated with PTSD. However, prosecutors discovered that any current mental disabilities Routhe was suffering were the result alcohol and marijuana abuse, not the war.

"He didn't kill those men because of who he wanted to be, he killed those men because he has a delusion -- he thought they were going to kill him," defense lawyer Warren St. John wrote. 

Routhe's attorneys continually argued that Routhe was unaware of what he was doing, but due to doctor's evidence and the fact that Routh openly apologized to the two families, he was ultimately tried for capital murder. Erath County District Attorney Alan Nash added that "this defendant gunned down two men in cold blood, in the back, in our country. Find him guilty."

In the end, on February 25, 2015, the jury found Routhe guilty of capital murder and sentenced him to life in prison without parole. The death penalty was not sought. Had Routhe gotten off on insanity, he would not have been committed. Witnesses say Routhe remained emotionless as the verdict was read, while the Kyle and Littlefield families rode a wave of emotions.

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