Sister of 'American Sniper' defendant: He said he killed 2
Feb 18, 2015 02:01 PM
STEPHENVILLE, Texas (AP) - The sister of the former Marine accused of fatally shooting "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle and another man testified Wednesday that when her brother came to her home on the day of the killings, he seemed "almost in a daze."
Laura Blevins, on the stand during the defense's first full day of testimony, said that when Eddie Ray Routh arrived, he told her he'd killed two people, The Dallas Morning News (http://bit.ly/1E69sX9
"He said he took their souls before they could take his. I asked him what he meant by that, and he said they were out to get him," Blevins said.
Routh, 27, is charged in the Feb. 2, 2013 deaths of the famed former Navy SEAL sniper and his friend Chad Littlefield at a rural shooting range. The trial has drawn intense interest, partly because of an Oscar-nominated film based on Kyle's memoir.
Routh has pleaded not guilty, and his attorneys are mounting an insanity defense. They say Routh was in a psychotic state at the time.
Blevins said that when she saw Kyle's truck, she began to fear he was telling the truth.
"When I was looking at him, he kind of looked like he was out of it, almost in a daze or something, and when I told him that I loved him, there was something in him that understood that," Blevins said.
Kyle had taken Routh on the outing after Routh's mother asked him to help her son, who family members have said suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Iraq and in Haiti following a devastating 2010 earthquake.
Blevins testified that she'd distanced herself from her brother after he was hospitalized several times for mental health issues, fearing he could be a danger to her family.
After Routh left the house, Blevins and her husband called police. Routh was later arrested.
Key points in the case:
On Feb. 2, 2013, Kyle, Littlefield and Routh drove to Rough Creek Lodge and Resort, which has a shooting range. About 5 p.m., a resort employee discovered the Kyle and Littlefield's bodies. Authorities say Routh arrived at his sister's Midlothian home about 45 minutes later.
Criminal law experts say a verdict hinges on whether the defense can prove Routh was insane and did not understand that the killings constituted a crime.
Prosecutors played a recording Tuesday of a phone call between Routh and a reporter from The New Yorker magazine in which Routh talks about what happened at the shooting range, The Dallas Morning News reported.
"I had to take care of business. I took care of business, and then I got in the truck and left," Routh said in the call.
Routh said he was annoyed that Littlefield wasn't shooting but instead seemed to be watching him.
"Are you gonna shoot? Are you gonna shoot? It's a shooting sport. You shoot," Routh said in the phone call. "That's what got me all riled up."
Routh said in the call that he shot Littlefield and then turned on Kyle, who had just emptied his revolver while shooting at a target.
Investigators have said Kyle and Littlefield both had loaded handguns in waistband holsters but it did not appear they were ever able to get them out of the holsters.
Routh's mother testified in her son's defense. Jodi Routh said she had asked Kyle to help her troubled son but that she didn't know he would take Routh to a shooting range. Prosecutors asked if she regretted not telling Kyle of threats Routh had made to kill himself and his family. "I was just looking for help for my son," she responded.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
Jurors have three options: find Routh guilty of capital murder, find him not guilty or find him not guilty by reason of insanity. If convicted, Routh faces life in prison without parole. Prosecutors aren't seeking the death penalty. Even if he's acquitted, Routh could remain in custody. The Texas criminal code stipulates that in cases involving violent crimes where defendants are found not guilty by reason of insanity, the court can initiate civil proceedings to have them committed.
WHO WAS KYLE?
Kyle served made more than 300 kills as a sniper for SEAL Team 3, according to his own count. He earned two Silver Stars for valor. After leaving the military, he volunteered with veterans facing mental health problems, often taking them shooting.