Following just a few hours of deliberations, a Texas jury has found Eddie Ray Routh guilty of murdering former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the author of American Sniper, and his friend Chad Littlefield. The 27-year-old admitted to the crimes, conceding that he shot and killed both men at Rough Creek Lodge and Resort on Feb. 2, 2013. His defense was one of insanity, and his lawyers claimed that Routh's morning of drinking and smoking marijuana impaired his judgment, leading to the tragic fates of Kyle and Littlefield. But a jury has determined otherwise, and while the state did not seek capital punishment, the jury's verdict automatically hands Routh a life in prison sentence.
Routh was himself a former member of the military, and had previously served in Iraq. According to his lawyers, he was overcome by a state of medically diagnosed psychosis at the time of the shootings, and could not be held fully responsible for the outcome. Rather, lawyers blamed Routh's paranoia on his drug usage, and said that the victims' perceived "snub" of the former Marine was the straw that broke the camel's back. After his tour of duty, Routh returned to live with his parents, and was suffering from relationship problems, an unfulfilling job, and financial stress.
The trial was thrust into the spotlight following the box office and critical success of Clint Eastwood's adaptation of Kyle's autobiography for the big screen, in a gut-wrenching performance starring Bradley Cooper. But it is the very real pain of the ongoing trial that has captured national attention in the last several weeks, and has finally reached its tragic conclusion. In her closing arguments, prosecutor Jane Starnes said of Chris Kyle, "He survived four tours of duty in Iraq and came home unscathed. He died face down in the dirt at a luxury resort shooting range, bleeding to death." The jury's verdict, at least, delivers some sort of justice.
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