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JeffSingleton - Thu, Feb 12, 2015, 4:47 P
Why Did This Guy Have Gun???
and isn't this a rather obvious question?

American Sniper Jury Is Told of Troubled Ex-Marine Who Killed Chris Kyle
New York Times

STEPHENVILLE, Tex. As Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield drove to a remote shooting range not far from this rural town outside Dallas on a February afternoon two years ago, a man they had only recently met sat in the back seat of Mr. Kyles truck.

The man was Eddie Ray Routh.

As lawyers described on the opening day of his trial here Wednesday, Mr. Routh served in Iraq as a Marine but returned to North Texas deeply troubled. Doctors said he had schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder. A few days before the trip to the shooting range, he held his girlfriend hostage with a knife, then proposed to her after his release from a hospital. The night before the range visit, he told her to whisper because people were listening.

The next morning, before heading to the gun range, Mr. Routh smoked marijuana laced with what appeared to be formaldehyde and drank whiskey.
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It is not certain what the three men talked about as they headed to the Rough Creek Lodge, where Mr. Kyle, the former marksman for the Navy SEALs whose life is the basis of the blockbuster movie “American Sniper,� often took troubled veterans. But as he drove, Mr. Kyle sent a text to Mr. Littlefield, who sat in the passenger seat beside him.

“This dude is straight-up nuts,� Mr. Kyle wrote.

Mr. Littlefield texted back, “He’s right behind me, watch my six,� using the military jargon for “watch my back.�

Not long after those texts, prosecutors say that Mr. Routh used two handguns � including a 9-millimeter pistol engraved with a Navy logo that appeared to belong to Mr. Kyle to kill his two companions at the range, shooting them a total of at least 13 times.

The texts were described by Mr. Routy's lawyer, Tim Moore, in his opening statement Wednesday. Mr. Routh has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, and his lawyers said that at the time of the shootings, he was in the grip of a psychosis so severe that he did not know what he was doing was wrong.

“He thought in his mind, at that point in time, that it was either him or them, that he had to take their lives because, in his psychosis, he was thinking they were going to take his,� Mr. Moore told the jury. “You will find that at the time of this tragic event, this tragic occurrence, that Eddie Routh was insane.�

As his lawyer spoke, Mr. Routh sat in a dark pinstripe suit, heavier than he appeared in his 2013 mug shot and with a shaved head and dark-rimmed eyeglasses. Family members of Mr. Kyle and Mr. Littlefield sat on the right side of the courtroom, while Mr. Routh’s relatives sat on the left. One of Mr. Routh’s relatives cried softly as Mr. Moore described his multiple hospitalizations.

Judy Littlefield, Mr. Littlefield’s mother, testified that Wednesday would have been her son’s 38th birthday. Mr. Kyle’s widow, Taya Kyle, the state’s first witness, sat on the stand across from Mr. Routh wearing her husband’s dog tags as a necklace. She described how she and her husband first met in San Diego and told the ages of their two children at the time he was killed. Their son was 8, and their daughter was 6.
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Jane Starnes, a lawyer in the Texas attorney general’s office, asked Ms. Kyle whom she had been married to.

“Chris Kyle,� she said after a long pause, choking back tears. Later, she said, “I’m sorry, I’m not nervous. I’m just emotional.�

There has never been any question that Mr. Routh killed Mr. Kyle, 38, and Mr. Littlefield, 35, on Feb. 2, 2013. He confessed after his arrest, telling a Texas Ranger that he believed he had to kill them and take their souls before they took his. The questions at the heart of the trial are whether he was legally insane at the time and whether he should spend the rest of his life in prison or be committed, with the possibility of release, to a hospital.

Mr. Routh’s lawyer spoke of the military deployments that preceded his client’s mental problems � six months in Iraq in 2007 and 2008, and a stint in Haiti after the earthquake there in 2010. “His experience in Haiti probably affected him more than any experience in Iraq,� Mr. Moore said.

Weeks before the shooting, doctors at Green Oaks Hospital, a psychiatric facility in Dallas, had advised that Mr. Routh was likely to cause serious harm to himself or to others, Mr. Moore said. He was transferred to the Dallas V.A. Medical Center, where doctors released him days later over the objections of his mother, Mr. Moore said.

M. Alan Nash, the Erath County district attorney, played down the role of mental illness, noting Mr. Routh’s conduct after the shootings. After leaving the shooting range in Mr. Kyle’s truck, Mr. Routh drove to a Dallas suburb to see his sister and her husband, telling them that he wanted to flee to Oklahoma. And when the police first approached him outside his house in nearby Lancaster, he sped away.

“He’s in control enough of his faculties that he knows if he gets out of that truck, he’s going to jail,� Mr. Nash told the jury. He added, “Mental illnesses, even the ones that this defendant may or may not have, don’t deprive people of the ability to be good citizens, to know right from wrong, to obey the law.�
Correction: February 12, 2015

An earlier version of this article misstated part of a text exchange about Eddie Ray Routh between Chris Kyle, whose life is the basis of the movie “American Sniper,� and his friend Chad Littlefield. Mr. Littlefield’s reply to Mr. Kyle in reference to Mr. Routh was, “He’s right behind me, watch my six,� not, “I’m right behind you, watch my six.�
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