Eddie Ray Routh has been found guilty of the murder of American Sniper Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield by a Texas jury.
The judge sentenced Eddie Ray Routh to life in prison without parole; prosecutors had not sought the death penalty.
Eddie Ray Routh’s defense lawyers said the 27-year-old was psychotic at the time of the shootings two years ago.
But prosecutors said Eddie Ray Routh was aware of what he was doing when he gunned the pair down at a Texas gun range in 2013.
American Sniper movie, based on Chris Kyle’s memoir of his four tours of duty in Iraq was nominated for best film at the Oscars this year.
The former Navy Seal, who has the most recorded kills of any US sniper, was shot and killed along with Chad Littlefield at a rural shooting range south-west of Fort Worth.
Having retired from the military, Chris Kyle had been helping other veterans deal with combat-related stress and mental health issues.
On the day of the killings, Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield took Eddie Ray Routh with them to go shooting after the defendant’s mother asked for help in dealing with her troubled son.
Eddie Ray Routh, who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, was under extreme mental distress and was convinced the two men would turn on him on the day of the killing, his lawyers argued.
The court also heard that Eddie Ray Routh was under the influence of marijuana and alcohol at the time of the shooting.
In addition, he had been prescribed anti-psychotic medication often used for schizophrenia, reported the Associated Press news agency.
Defense lawyers said Eddie Ray Routh had been mentally affected by the time he spent helping earthquake relief efforts in Haiti with the Marines in 2010.
He had pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder on grounds of insanity.
However, a psychologist testified for prosecutors that Eddie Ray Routh was not legally insane, but instead had a paranoid disorder made worse by his drink and cannabis abuse, according to the Associated Press.
As prosecutors had not sought the death penalty, the sentence of life imprisonment without parole was imposed automatically by the judge.
According to a recent study, Oscar nominees American Sniper and Birdman have seen a surge in online piracy rates since nomination.
The report was carried out by Irdeto, a Netherlands-based company that sells piracy controls to the pay-TV sector.
It used “crawler” software to monitor downloads via Bittorrent peer-to-peer file-sharing services around the world and says its figures represent the minimum number of illegal downloads.
As part of the study, the company compared the amount of piracy in the week before nominations with the week after.
Selma, Wild, American Sniper, Still Alice and Birdman saw some of the biggest swings in popularity, and each accounted for more than 100,000 downloads.
By contrast, two other films that had been tipped for the awards but failed to secure nominations in the major categories did not experience similar demand: Mr. Turner has been downloaded 9,086 times since January 15, and Inherent Vice has been downloaded 53,008 times, according to the study.
Taya Kyle, the widow of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle depicted in the Oscar-nominated film American Sniper, gave an emotional testimony during Eddie Routh murder trial in Stephenville, Texas.
Chris Kyle’s wife told jurors about her final moments with her husband, just hours before he and a friend were killed at a Texas gun range.
She was the first prosecution witness called on February 11 in the murder trial of the ex-Marine accused of fatally shooting Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield in 2023.
The trial in the small town of Stephenville, located about 30 miles from the rural luxury resort where the men were killed, has attracted national attention with the recent release of the blockbuster movie based on the memoir of the sniper who served four tours in Iraq.
Defense attorneys are seeking an insanity defense for Eddie Ray Routh, 27, who faces life in prison without parole if convicted of capital murder.
Chris Kyle had taken Eddie Routh to the shooting range after Routh’s mother asked Kyle if he could help him.
Taya Kyle paused and then her voice broke when a prosecutor asked her to give jurors the name of the man she’d married.
Her testimony was conversational and compelling and she often looked straight at jurors as she talked about Chris Kyle, smiling when she said he had attended Tarleton State University in Stephenville before leaving to ride broncos in the rodeo and later joining the Navy.
Taya Kyle told jurors that as her husband left to go to the shooting range on February 2, 2013, “we just said we loved each other and gave each other a hug and kiss, like we always did.”
The day started like any typical Saturday for the Kyles. As parents of an 8-year-old boy and 6-year-old girl, they had spent their morning cheering at youth sporting events and chatting with friends. Taya Kyle had plans that afternoon to take their daughter to a Build-A-Bear Workshop.
Taya Kyle said she’d called Chris midafternoon – around the time he arrived at Rough Creek Lodge and Resort – and noticed he was unusually terse. Instead of his usual “Hello babe,” he gave a quick “Hello”. Chris Kyle said it would be fine to have dinner with friends. Then she asked if he was OK. He just said “Yep”.
During opening statements, a defense attorney revealed a text message exchange between Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield as they drove to the lodge with Eddie Routh, whom Kyle had picked up at his house.
Chris Kyle texted Chad Littlefield: “This dude is straight-up nuts.”
“He’s (sitting) right behind me, watch my six,” Chad Littlefield texted back, using a military term for watching one’s back.
As dinnertime approached, Taya Kyle became concerned. Chad Littlefield’s wife called her, also worried.
Taya Kyle’s alarm grew when she texted her husband: “Are you OK? I’m getting worried.”
There was no reply.
The bodies of Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield were found at the shooting range at about 5 p.m. Both were shot multiple times.
Erath County District Attorney Alan Nash described Eddie Routh as “a troubled young man” who on the morning of the killings numbed himself with marijuana and whiskey. He said a history of mental illness should not absolve Eddie Routh in the deaths.
Tim Moore, an attorney for Eddie Routh, said Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield’s text exchange shows how Routh was spiraling out of control. He told jurors that Eddie Routh was suffering from severe mental strain that day and thought he needed to kill the two or they would turn on him.
Eddie Routh was a small arms technician who served in Iraq and was deployed to earthquake-ravaged Haiti before leaving the Marines in 2010.
The trial of Eddie Ray Routh, who is charged with killing of former Navy SEALs sniper Chris Kyle, is scheduled to open in Stephenville, Texas, on February 11 at 9 a.m.
American Sniper, the blockbuster war movie about Chris Kyle, now playing at Cinemark Cinema 6 three miles from the courtroom, will be showing at 3:40 p.m., 7 p.m. and 10:20 p.m.
Legal experts have questioned whether Eddie Ray Routh, 27, the mentally ill veteran accused of killing Chris Kyle and his friend at a shooting range in Stephenville’s Erath County in 2013, can receive a fair trial here.
American Sniper has become a cultural moment far beyond the reach of the book, the movie or the criminal case against Eddie Ray Routh.
Just as the movie has been debated for what it says about war and warriors, the trial will dissect what war did to and for two men – one of them hailed, particularly in Texas, as an American hero, the other a fellow soldier on trial for two murders that people here are still trying to comprehend two years later.
Eddie Ray Routh’s lawyers, Warren St. John and Tim Moore, have included the movie and the local support for Chris Kyle in their legal case, asking the judge to postpone the trial. They cited the popularity of the movie, its release in local theaters, the bomb threat and Governor Greg Abbott’s decision to declare last Monday, the two-year anniversary of Chris Kyle’s death, Chris Kyle Day in Texas.
The judge, Erath County District Judge Jason Cashon, denied their request.
Eddie Ray Routh’s lawyers also asked the judge to move the proceedings out of Erath County, describing “so great a prejudice” against their client that he could not get a fair trial.
Judge Cashon was expected to turn down that motion as well, but it was clear last week as prospective jurors crowded the courtroom that he had concerns about the publicity surrounding the case.
A pool of 263 potential jurors qualified for jury selection. Prosecutors and defense lawyers questioned them on February 9 and 10, but there was concern whether the pool was large enough for a jury to be seated, raising the remote possibility that the start of the trial could be delayed.
Chris Kyle, who became the military’s deadliest sniper while protecting Marines in Iraq, took Eddie Ray Routh to the range on February 2, 2013.
He often used trips to the range as a form of therapy for wounded and troubled veterans.
Once there, Eddie Ray Routh turned his handgun on Chris Kyle, 38, and Kyle’s friend, Chad Littlefield, 35, and then fled in Kyle’s truck, the authorities said.
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water has topped the US box office, taking $56 million in its opening weekend.
The animated movie follows SpongeBob character as he leaves his home on the ocean floor and attempts to recover a stolen burger recipe.
Clint Eastwood’s Navy Seal drama American Sniper fell to second place after taking $24.2 million in its fourth week.
Since its release, American Sniper has raked in $282 million. Based on the memoirs of soldier Chris Kyle, it has received six Oscar nominations, including a best actor nod for Bradley Cooper in the title role.
Jupiter Ascending sold the third most tickets over the weekend, with estimated box office takings of $19 million.
Starring Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis and Eddie Redmayne, the sci-fi blockbuster has received wildly disparate reviews.
Seventh Son, a 3D fantasy-action film starring Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore, took the fourth spot, earning $7.1 million.
Paddington, the film adaptation of the family classic about a bear lost in the big city, came fifth, with $5.4 million in ticket sales.
North America box office Top 10:
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water – $56 million
American Sniper has remained on the top of the US box office for a second week with takings of $64.4 million, according to studio estimates.
Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper is up for six Oscars including best film and best actor for Bradley Cooper.
Recounting the story of real life Navy Seal Chris Kyle, it has now made a total of $200.1 million.
The movie has also dominated headlines. In the past few days American Sniper has been blamed for an increase in threats against Muslims in the US, according to an Arab-American civil rights group.
While American Sniper is breaking records at the top of the US box office, at the other end of the scale Johnny Depp’s comedy heist film Mortdecai debuted in ninth place, taking only $4.1 million in ticket sales.
It is Johnny Depp’s third consecutive box office flop in a leading role, after 2014’s Transcendence and 2013’s The Lone Ranger.
Jennifer Lopez fared better, taking second place in this week’s chart with the Boy Next Door, in which she stars as a teacher who has an affair with a younger man.
Family movie Paddington stayed steady in third place in its second week of release, taking $12.4 million.
American Sniper release has led to an increase in threats against Muslims in the US, according to an Arab-American civil rights group.
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) has written to director Clint Eastwood and star Bradley Cooper.
Clint Eastwood’s movie is based on US soldier Chris Kyle’s service in Iraq from 2003 to 2009.
The ADC said a “majority of the violent threats we have seen over the past few days are result of how Arab and Muslims are depicted in American Sniper”.
The organization, which describes itself as the largest Arab civil rights organization in the US, said it had collected “hundreds of violent messages targeting Arab and Muslim Americans from movie-goers”, mainly from Facebook and Twitter.
The ADC letter asked Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper to speak out against such messages “in an effort to reduce the hateful rhetoric”.
“Your visibility, influence, and connection to the film would be a tremendous force in drawing attention to and lessening the serious dangers facing the respective communities,” ADC president Samer Khalaf wrote.
Jack Horner, a spokesman for the Warner Bros film studio, which released American Sniper, told the Reuters that the company “denounces any violent, anti-Muslim rhetoric, including that which has been attributed to viewers” of the film.
He added: “Hate and bigotry have no place in the important dialogue that this picture has generated about the veteran experience.”
Spokespeople for Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper had no immediate response to requests for comment, Reuters reported.
American Sniper has been a major hit in North America, exceeding box office predictions by taking $90 million in its opening weekend – a record for a January release. It also has six Oscar nominations.
The movie has also caused controversy. Some have hailed its portrayal of Chris Kyle as a war hero, but others have criticized it for glorifying violence and for Kyle’s attitude towards his victims.
Chris Kyle, a Navy Seal, served four tours of duty in Iraq and killed more than 160 people, making him the most deadly sniper in American history.
American Sniper movie is based on Chris Kyle’s book, also titled American Sniper, in which he claimed to have no regrets and referred to those he killed as “savages”.
Chris Kyle was killed in February 2013 on a firing range in his home state of Texas.