The man who allegedly shot and killed famed military sniper Chris Kyle may not have been in his right mind when he supposedly committed the violent crime — that's at least according to evidence presented during Eddie Ray Routh's capital murder trial on Monday. During a recorded confession presented to the jury, Routh apparently confessed to shooting both Kyle and Kyle's friend Chad Littlefield on Feb. 2, 2013 after driving with them to a shooting range outside of the Rough Creek Lodge and Resort in Iredell, Texas. His lawyers maintained his plea of "not guilty" by reason of insanity, citing a psychotic episode triggered by long-term post-traumatic stress disorder as the motive behind the killings.
During the recording, Routh confessed that he had killed Kyle and Littlefield because they "wouldn't talk to [him]", and that he had only shot the two men so that they wouldn't shoot him first. In a video confession taped only a few hours after the shootings, Routh is seen telling Texas Ranger Danny Briley, "If I did not take down [Kyle's] soul, he was going to take down mine."
In the footage, court reporters confirm that Routh had been alternately standing and sitting, pleading police to remove his handcuffs, and had been rambling about hell, voodoo, and the Apocalypse after his arrest earlier that day, in footage captured by a police body camera. Erath County jailer Sgt. Kenny Phillips also testified on Monday that Routh had seemed agitated during transport to the jail where Briley was waiting.
According to testimony on Friday by former Erath County Sheriff’s Office deputy Gene Cole, Routh had said that he had been upset because Kyle and Littlefield, who had driven Routh to the shooting range that morning, had refused to speak with him during the commute. "They were just taking me to the range so I shot them," Cole testified hearing Routh say. "I feel bad about it, but they wouldn’t talk to me. I’m sure they’ve forgiven me."
In addition to the bizarre taped confession, the court also played several voicemail messages left on Kyle's phone leading up to the morning of the shooting on Feb. 2, 2013. "Kind of a sad day when it rains. It's a good sad. Rain will come and rains will leave. I guess that's what they do," Routh said in one message.
Routh's attorneys alleged in their opening statements on Wednesday that Routh had been "in the grip of psychosis" at the time of the killings. "He did not know what he was doing was wrong," stated one of Routh's lawyers, Tim Moore, of the former marine, despite Routh stating otherwise in the videotaped confession on Monday. "He thought at that time it was either him or them." Moore also stated that Routh had threatened to kill his girlfriend a month earlier.
Although prosecutors are currently seeking a capital murder conviction against Routh, the death penalty is off the table, according to District Attorney Alan Nash. That fact alone may only be a small victory for the defense, but for Routh's family, who agree with the defense that the 27-year-old was suffering from a psychotic episode on the day of the shootings, it's huge. Said Sundae Hughes, Routh's aunt, in an interview with ABC News, "I still love my nephew, no matter what he did. ... What happened was a very tragic incident, but that was not Eddie."
Images: Getty Images (1)