‘American Sniper’ case goes to jury: Cold, calculated murder or act of insanity?
STEPHENVILLE, Texas (CNN) — The arguments are over. The fate of Eddie Ray Routh now rests with the jury.
Each side in the trial of the man accused of killing Chris Kyle, subject of the hit film “American Sniper,” and Kyle’s friend at a Texas firing range two years ago, made its final case Tuesday.
No one disputes that Routh shot and killed the men. But defense attorneys say Routh was insane.
Prosecutors dismiss that claim outright.
“Ladies and gentleman, that is not insanity. That is just cold, calculated capital murder. He is guilty of capital murder. He is not in any way insane,” said attorney Jane Starnes during closing arguments.
She claimed Routh knew the difference between right and wrong.
Starnes urged jurors to “follow the law,” allowing the law to guide them “to the true and correct verdict.”
For its part, the defense pointed to Routh’s long history of mental illness.
“He killed those men because he had a delusion. He believed in his mind that they were going to kill him,” said attorney J. Warren St. John.
Jurors can pick from three choices: guilty, not guilty, or not guilty by reason of insanity.
Routh’s trial comes in the wake of the release of the film about Kyle, a former Navy SEAL who claimed to be the deadliest sniper in U.S. history, with 160 confirmed kills in Iraq.
“American Sniper,” directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Bradley Cooper, is already the highest-grossing war movie.
Kyle’s autobiography by the same name spent weeks on best-seller lists. He had already risen to fame through his book when he died and was involved in charitable work to help former troops suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Kyle and his friend, Chad Littlefield, took Routh to the firing range as a kind of therapy.
The range is a small, remote part of the sprawling 11,000-acre Rough Creek Lodge, and the men were isolated.
A hunting guide found Kyle, 38, and Littlefield, 35, who also was a veteran, motionless and called 911. The men were dead when officers arrived.