A Texas jury could begin deliberations as early as Tuesday in the trial of a former Marine charged with murdering Chris Kyle, the former U.S. Navy SEAL whose autobiography was turned into the blockbuster movie “American Sniper.”
Eddie Ray Routh, 27, is accused of fatally shooting Kyle and Kyle’s friend Chad Littlefield multiple times at a gun range about 70 miles (110 km) southwest of Fort Worth in February 2013 and then fleeing in Kyle’s pickup truck.
Crime scene analyst Howard Ryan called by prosecutors as a rebuttal witness testified that Kyle was shot several times as he was mostly motionless, with the rounds hitting the same area of the body. Littlefield appeared to have been shot while on his knees, Ryan said.
“Our opinion is that he was shot in the back,” Ryan told the court, speaking of Littlefield, who also had wounds on other parts of his body, including to his head.
Closing arguments are expected as early as Tuesday afternoon and then the case would go to the jury of 10 woman and two men at the court in the rural city of Stephenville would begin deliberations.
Defense attorney are trying to have Routh declared innocent by reason of insanity and called a psychiatrist who testified he is a paranoid schizophrenic and showed signs of psychosis that could not be faked.
Prosecutors, seeking a life sentence without the possibility of parole, contend Routh knew what he was doing and acted deliberately when he shot the two and then fled. They called a psychologist who testified Routh has a personality disorder make worse by heavy drug use and has been faking schizophrenia.
The trial has focused renewed attention on Kyle, who is credited with the most confirmed kills of an U.S. military sniper, and on the movie “American Sniper.”
Routh, who served with the Marines in Iraq and Haiti, had been admitted to Veterans Affairs hospitals after his service to treat mental illness. Prosecutors said Routh did not see combat in his overseas deployments.
Routh’s attorneys have not disputed that he shot Kyle and Littlefield. In videotape provided by police and shown in court in the rural Texas city of Stephenville, Routh admits to the shooting in a rambling speech that defense attorneys contend attests to his unstable mental state.
The trial was halted on Monday due to an ice storm in the area.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Bill Trott)