Jury selection began today in Texas for the trial of Eddie Ray Routh, who is accused of murdering former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield on Feb 2, 2013:
Eddie Ray Routh, 27, is accused of killing Kyle, 38, and Kyle’s friend, father-of-one Chad Littlefield, 35, at a shooting range near Chalk Mountain, Texas on February 2, 2013.
Kyle, a married father-of-two, had been trying to help Routh deal with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder on the request of Routh’s mother and had taken him to target practice when he was killed.
Routh, who struggled with PTSD after serving as a small arms technician in Iraq before leaving the Marines in 2010, is pleading not guilty by reason of insanity.
Routh’s family and lawyers are going for an insanity defense, and intend to blame post-traumatic stress (PTS) for his mental impairment but I, for one, am not buying the PTS defense.
You’ll note that Routh was a “small arms technician”, or armorer. He was a gunsmith who never went on a combat mission.
Routh reported for his duty station inside a sprawling base in Iraq, repairing worn-out or broken firearms much as he would have if he were stationed in the United States.
For Routh’s family to blame PTS for his mental illness is convenient, but unless the defense attorney’s can come up with details never before released of war-related trauma, it is more likely that any mental illness he may have is organic. Many forms of mental illness manifest in the early to mid-20s, independent of military service.
More than 500 people are expected to be part of the jury selection process that began today.
Opening arguments are slated to begin February 11.
The jury selection process begins as the Clint Eastwood-directed movie American Sniper based on Kyle’s book is the highest-grossing war-themed movie ever made, with $248.9 million made in the first six weeks of the film’s release.