Lawyers for the former Marine who admitted to killing ‘American Sniper’ Chris Kyle and his friend, Chad Littlefield, on a Texas shooting range in 2013 are concerned that the film’s popularity will make it impossible for their client to receive a fair trial, The Washington Post‘s Abby Phillip reports.
Eddie Ray Routh’s struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is what brought together with Kyle and Littlefield, who were reportedly on the remote shooting range in order to help him. However, at some point during their outing, Routh told his sister and brother-in-law that “he couldn’t trust [Kyle and Littlefield] so he killed them before they could kill him.”
Chris Kyle’s death is not depicted in the Oscar-nominated biography, which focuses mostly on his career as a sniper, but the circumstances of it are mentioned immediately before the credits roll.
Routh — a former Marine sharpshooter — had been in and out of the Green Oaks Psychiatric Hospital at least twice in the five months prior to the killings for threatening to kill himself and members of his family.
His lawyer, J. Warren St. John, told the Post that he would be seeking an insanity defense for Routh, as the alternative sentencing guidelines that California adopted for veterans suffering from PTSD does not currently apply to violent crimes.
St. John told The Hollywood Reporter that he worried whether, given the American Sniper‘s popularity, his client would be able to receive a fair trial.
A previous change-of-venue motion has already been denied once, and he said it is going “to be an issue” again given the film’s popularity.
When the victim is the subject of the most popular film in America, he asked, “Can there even be a fair trial?”