A Texas jury has rejected the insanity defense of a former Marine in the deaths of famed "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle and another man.
After a two-week trial in which jurors heard testimony about defendant Eddie Ray Routh's erratic behavior, including statements about anarchy, the apocalypse and pig-human hybrids, they convicted Routh Tuesday night in the deaths of Kyle and Chad Littlefield at a Texas shooting range two years ago.
Routh showed no reaction as a judge sentenced him to life in prison without parole, an automatic sentence since prosecutors didn't seek the death penalty in the capital murder case.
The verdict capped an emotional trial in which prosecutors painted the 27-year-old as a troubled drug user who knew right from wrong, despite any mental illnesses. Routh had claimed he had PTSD.
Defense attorneys said he suffered from schizophrenia and was suffering a psychotic episode at the time of the shootings. While trial testimony and evidence often included Routh making odd statements and referring to insanity, he also confessed several times, apologized for the crimes and tried to evade police after the crime.
"You took the lives of two heroes, men who tried to be a friend to you," Chad Littlefield's half-brother Jerry Richardson told Routh after the verdict. "And you became an American disgrace."
Routh's trial drew intense interest, in part because of the blockbuster film based on former Navy SEAL Kyle's memoir about his four tours in Iraq.
Jurors had three options: find Routh guilty of capital murder, find him not guilty, or find him not guilty by reason of insanity. If found not guilty by reason of insanity, the court could have initiated proceedings to have him committed to a state mental hospital.
A forensic psychologist testified for prosecutors that Routh was not legally insane. Defense attorneys noted that Kyle had described Routh as "straight-up nuts" in a text message to Littlefield.
Routh's defense team said they would appeal the conviction.
The Associated Press
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