Murders of Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield
|Murders of Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield|
|Location||Chalk Mountain, Texas, U.S.|
|Date||February 2, 2013|
|Weapons||.45 caliber M1911 pistol, 9 mm SIG Sauer handgun|
|Victims||Chris Kyle |
|Perpetrator||Eddie Ray Routh|
The murders of Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield occurred on February 2, 2013, at a shooting range near Chalk Mountain, Texas. Kyle, who was a former Navy SEAL, and his friend Littlefield were walking down range to set up targets when Eddie Ray Routh opened fire and hit both of them. Routh was a 25-year-old Marine who had experienced posttraumatic stress disorder. The case attracted national attention due to Kyle's fame as author of a bestselling biography, American Sniper, published in 2012. A film adaptation based on Kyle's book, directed by Clint Eastwood, was released two years later.
Chris Kyle had begun working with veterans after leaving the military. Routh's mother, who worked at the school that Kyle's children attended, had heard of his work and asked him to help her son. He agreed to take Routh to a shooting range, which Kyle believed had therapeutic value.
On February 2, 2013, Kyle and his friend, Chad Littlefield, 35, were shot and killed by Eddie Ray Routh at the Rough Creek Ranch-Lodge-Resort shooting range in Erath County, Texas. Both Kyle and Littlefield were armed with .45-caliber M1911-style pistols when they were killed, but neither gun had been unholstered or fired, and the safety catches were still on. Kyle was killed with a .45-caliber pistol, while Littlefield was shot with a 9mm SIG Sauer P226 Mk.25 Mod 0 pistol. Both guns belonged to Kyle.
Routh was a 25-year-old U.S. Marine Corps veteran from Lancaster, Texas. Kyle and Littlefield had reportedly taken Routh to the gun range in an effort to help him with his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Routh had been in and out of mental hospitals for at least two years and had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. His family also said he suffered from PTSD from his time in the military. On the way to the shooting range, Kyle texted Littlefield, "This dude is straight up nuts." Littlefield responded, "Watch my six," military slang meaning "watch my back." Four months later, while he was in his jail cell, Routh shared with former Erath County Sheriff's Deputy Gene Cole: "I was just riding in the back seat of the truck, and nobody would talk to me. They were just taking me to the range, so I shot them. I feel bad about it, but they wouldn't talk to me. I'm sure they've forgiven me."
After the killings, Routh went to his sister's house in Midlothian and told her what he had done. His sister, Laura Blevins, called 9-1-1 and told the emergency operator: "They went out to a shooting range ... Like, he's all crazy. He's ... psychotic." Local police captured Routh after a short freeway chase, which ended when Routh, who fled the scene in Kyle's Ford F-350 truck, crashed into a police cruiser in Lancaster.
Eddie Ray Routh was born on September 30, 1987, in Lancaster, Texas, to Raymond and Jodi Routh. He has an older sister, Laura Blevins. He had wanted to join the Marine Corps since he was thirteen years old, and did so after high school. He was deployed to a base near Baghdad in September 2007, where he worked for six months as a prison guard and repaired weapons. In January 2010, he was sent on a humanitarian mission to Haiti. He was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in July 2011 after serving for seven years.
In late July 2011, Routh was diagnosed by clinicians at Veterans hospital as having post-traumatic stress disorder and was prescribed antipsychotics and antidepressants. He was experiencing auditory hallucinations and paranoia and had threatened suicide. VA clinicians believed Routh's psychotic symptoms were caused by alcohol abuse and offered inpatient treatment. He declined and stopped taking his medication.
- Chris Kyle (April 8, 1974 – February 2, 2013) was 38 years old at the time of his death.
- Chad Littlefield (February 11, 1977 – February 2, 2013) was 35 years old at the time of his death.
Routh was arraigned February 2, 2013, on two counts of capital murder, and was taken to the Erath County Jail for holding under a $3 million bond. His trial was set to begin May 5, 2014, but was delayed to allow more time to comply with DNA testing requirements. The trial began on February 11, 2015.
Routh's attorneys argued that he was insane at the time of the murders. Forensic psychologist Randall Price, a witness for the prosecution, suspected Routh was faking schizophrenia. He said that Routh actually had paranoid personality disorder exacerbated by drug use. He also testified that Routh's psychotic symptoms could be attributed to drug and alcohol abuse. Another expert, Dr. Michael Arambula, testified he did not believe Routh was schizophrenic, and was not insane at the time of the murders because he was intoxicated.
On February 24, 2015, Routh was found guilty of murdering Kyle and Littlefield. The jury returned the verdict after less than three hours of deliberations. Since prosecutors decided beforehand not to seek the death penalty, the trial judge, Jason Cashon, immediately sentenced Routh to life in prison with no possibility of parole. Routh is imprisoned at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Powledge Unit near Palestine, Texas.
A memorial service was held for Kyle at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on February 11, 2013. He was buried on February 12, 2013, at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, after the funeral cortege journeyed from Midlothian to Austin, more than 200 miles (320 km). Hundreds of people, many waving American flags, lined Interstate 35 to view the procession and pay their final respects to Kyle.
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