<![CDATA[NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth - Chris Kyle]]>Copyright 2017https://www.nbcdfw.com/feature/chris-kylehttp://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/NBC+5-KXAS+Logo+for+Google+News.pngNBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worthhttps://www.nbcdfw.comen-usSun, 10 Dec 2017 22:10:14 -0600Sun, 10 Dec 2017 22:10:14 -0600NBC Owned Television Stations<![CDATA[Couple Creates Chris Kyle Corn Maze]]>Wed, 09 Sep 2015 17:25:49 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/kyle+corn+maze.jpg

A Georgia couple created a corn maze in the image of slain North Texas Navy SEAL Chris Kyle.

It took about 48 hours to design and cut Kyle's image, whose life was chronicled in the movie "American Sniper."

The 7-acre corn maze is located in Loganville, outside Atlanta.

Kyle was shot and killed at an Ellis County shooting range in 2013 by troubled veteran Eddie Ray Routh who Kyle and friend Chad Littlefield were trying to help.

Photo Credit: NBC News]]>
<![CDATA[Chris Kyle, Ed Dyess Awarded Texas Medal of Honor]]>Thu, 27 Aug 2015 08:18:48 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/medal-of-honor-tx.jpg

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott posthumously awarded the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor to Chief Petty Officer Chris Kyle and Lieutenant Colonel Ed Dyess Wednesday.

The Texas Legislative Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration that can be awarded to a member of the state or federal military forces by the State of Texas.

"America is the brightest beacon of freedom the world has ever known because of all who have honorably worn the uniform of the mightiest military in the history of the world," Abbott said in a news release. "For their remarkable valor and selfless service, it is my distinct honor to present the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor to Lt. Col. Ed Dyess and Chief Petty Officer Chris Kyle. We can never repay the debt we owe for the lives these men saved and the freedom they preserved, but today we honor their memory, their patriotism and their sacrifice."

Kyle's widow, Taya Kyle, accepted the medal on her husband's behalf.  Kyle, the subject of the 2014 movie "American Sniper," was shot and killed along with friend Chad Littlefield at an Erath County gun range in 2013.

Below is more from the Office of the Governor on the recipients:

Christopher Scott Kyle was born and raised in Texas and was a US Navy SEAL from 1999 to 2009. He is currently known as the most successful sniper in American military history. According to his book American Sniper, he had 160 confirmed kills (which was from 255 claimed kills). Kyle served as a Navy SEAL in 4 tours in the latest Iraq war. For his bravery and military skills, he was awarded some of the highest medals in the US military multiple times including the Bronze and Silver Star. In 2009, Kyle decided to leave the SEALS and was honorably discharged. After some time struggling with civilian life, he started a security company called CRAFT and wrote the New York Times bestselling book, American Sniper. Kyle was murdered at a shooting range by a US military veteran he was trying to help on February 2, 2013 in Texas.

William Edwin Dyess, World War II flier, was born August 9, 1916, in Albany, TX. After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and began assaults on Bataan and Corregidor, Dyess was thrust into combat in the Asian Theater as commander of all flying squadrons on Bataan. On March 3, 1942, in Subic Bay he sank a Japanese ship and damaged shore installations. As the enemy closed in, Dyess refused evacuation and remained with his men in the Philippines. On April 9, 1942, the American forces surrendered to the Japanese, and Dyess became a prisoner of war. He survived the horror of the Bataan Death March and imprisonment at camps O'Donnell and Cabanatuan and the Davao Penal Colony. At Davao, Dyess and several other prisoners escaped on April 4, 1943. They contacted Filipino guerrillas that led them to the submarine Trout on July 23. After returning home and staying in an army general hospital in Virginia to regain his health, Dyess was promoted to lieutenant colonel and resumed flying on December 22, 1943. He was killed that day in Burbank, CA, attempting an emergency landing and was buried in Albany.

Photo Credit: Office of the Governor]]>
<![CDATA[Kyle Posthumously Awarded TX Legislative Medal Of Honor]]>Thu, 18 Jun 2015 13:48:07 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/chris+kyle.jpg

Governor Greg Abbott signed a resolution on Thursday to posthumously award the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor to Chief Petty Officer Chris Kyle.

“Since its inception, the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor has been awarded to those in the State of Texas who have demonstrated extraordinary heroism as a member of state or federal military forces, and there is no one more deserving of this year’s award than Chief Petty Officer Chris Kyle,” said Abbott. “Kyle is one of the legions of valiant warriors who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and served our great nation with unrivaled honor, bravery and heroism.”

The Texas native and Navy SEAL served four years in Iraq and is considered the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history.

During the legislative session, Abbott also dedicated part of Highway in 287 in Midlothian as "Chris Kyle Memorial Highway" and proclaimed February 2 to be "Chris Kyle Day" in Texas.

To view the resolution, CLICK HERE.

Photo Credit: Kevin Cokely & Amanda Guerra, NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Routh Sent to Correctional Psych Facility]]>Tue, 10 Mar 2015 17:32:38 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Eddie-Ray-Routh.jpg

Eddie Ray Routh, the former Marine convicted of killing former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield, has been transferred to a correctional psychiatric facility near Houston.

Routh, who gunned down the "American Sniper" author and his friend in 2013 at a gun range, was transferred to the Jester IV unit in Richmond, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Earlier this month Routh, 27, had been sent to the Middleton Unit near Abilene to undergo an evaluation and psychological screening that would determine where he would begin serving out his sentence.

After jurors rejected his insanity defense, Routh was sentenced to life without parole for shooting Kyle and Littlefield at a gun range in Erath County in 2013.

An attorney for the former Marine filed an appeal and a motion for a new trial about a week after the verdict.

<![CDATA[Lawmaker Pushes to Award Kyle Medal of Honor]]>Thu, 26 Feb 2015 12:23:10 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/kyle-memorial.jpg

A Texas congressman is pushing to grant the highest military honor to "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle.

Rep. Roger Williams, a Republican, introduced on Thursday the "Chris Kyle Medal of Honor Act," which would authorize and request President Barack Obama to posthumously award the Medal of Honor to Kyle for acts of valor during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“Chris gave the ultimate sacrifice and served his nation with distinction and bravery while saving countless American lives,” Williams said in a statement obtained by NBC News. “There is no doubt that this true American hero is worthy of our nation’s highest military honor."

Williams' office staff has been in contact with Kyle's family, who is aware of the plan.

"While the Medal of Honor will not bring back a husband, father, son and a model Texan, we owe Chris Kyle and his family a great deal of gratitude for his relentless devotion to his country," Williams said.

Kyle, a Navy SEAL, served four tours in Iraq and is credited with the most confirmed kills in U.S. military history. A film based on his book, which is in theaters now, was nominated for an Academy Award. 

Kyle and friend Chad Littlefield were shot and killed by Marine Eddie Ray Routh at a Texas shooting range in February 2013. Routh was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison for the killings earlier this week. 

The Medal of Honor has been awarded 3,507 times since its first presentation in 1863.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Littlefield Family Speaks About Routh Conviction]]>Fri, 27 Feb 2015 20:21:09 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Chad-Littlefield-Parents.jpg

Chad Littlefield's family said Wednesday a connection between Eddie Routh and Littlefield’s brother made it even harder to watch Routh’s long trial.

The family spoke with a gag order lifted that had blocked relatives and witnesses from talking with reporters.

Littlefield’s brother, Jerry Richardson, said he was a high school teacher in Midlothian when Routh attended school there.

“He and a few other kids were discussing what they would do if they ever killed someone,” Richardson said. ”And his comeback was, I would claim insane and be off in three to four months.”

Richardson and Littlefield’s parents, Don and Judy Littlefield, spoke in an exclusive interview with NBC News.

They said they tried to be sympathetic to former U.S. Marine Routh’s claims of post traumatic stress disorder, but trial evidence showed Routh never saw combat and lacked sufficient trauma to justify the disorder.

Prosecutors argued Routh’s heavy drug and alcohol use were more to blame for his odd behavior.

It took the Erath County jury of 10 women and two men about two hours Tuesday night to reject Routh’s insanity defense and find him guilty of murder. Judge Jason Cashon immediately sentenced Routh to life in prison.

Littlefield's family made victim impact statements to Routh after he was sentenced.

“We have to suffer this senseless loss just because of the choices he made,” Judy Littlefield said.

His relatives said Chad Littlefield was a quiet man who listened more than he spoke. Testimony showed Routh to be a constant talker and Routh’s confessions heard in the trial show he was insulted by Littlefield’s silence.

“It almost seems like he took it out on Chad but had to kill Chris because he knew Chris would shoot him,” Judy Littlefield said.

Chris Kyle, subject of the movie “American Sniper” about his life, and Littlefield had gone with Routh to the Rough Creek Lodge shooting range in Erath County on an outing that was supposed to be therapy for Routh at the request of his mother.

Richardson said details heard in the trial were hard to accept.

“When they draw the lines from dot to dot throughout this case, it sickened us,” he said. “How could someone have done that to two great men?”

Kyle’s widow, Taya, issued a statement on Facebook.

"God Bless the Jury And good people of Stephenville, Texas," the statement said.

Routh was still listed as an inmate at the Erath County Jail Wednesday, but he will soon be transferred to state prison to begin serving his life sentence.

NBC 5's Bianca Castro contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Jon Koonsman/Don Littlefield]]>
<![CDATA[Crime Scene Reconstruction Expert Testifies in Routh Trial]]>Tue, 24 Feb 2015 14:16:23 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/AP523964194908.jpg

A crime scene expert testified Tuesday as the final state rebuttal witness in the Stephenville murder trial of Eddie Ray Routh, the man accused of fatally shooting former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield in 2013.

The trial resumed Tuesday after icy weather canceled Monday’s session.

Chief Warrant Officer Howard Ryan, from the Morris County New Jersey Sheriff’s Department, is a retired New Jersey State Police crime scene expert who specializes in reconstruction.

Ryan said he reviewed crime scene evidence and photos and autopsy reports and visited the crime location at the Rough Creek Lodge shooting range near Glen Rose in person.

Ryan said the shooting platform where Kyle and Littlefield were killed in February 2013 was a very confined crime scene compared with others he has investigated.

“Both of the victims sustained very devastating injuries that would preclude them from moving afterward,” said Ryan.

He said blood stain and ballistic evidence showed the victims were taken by surprise and unable to defend themselves, even though both men carried holstered, loaded pistols.

Ryan said it was important to recognize the skill set of Kyle, the subject of the movie and book, “American Sniper.”

”If he’s faced with a confrontation, I have to believe he’s going to protect himself and engage,” Ryan said. “He never saw it coming.“

Ryan said Kyle was shot in rapid succession or in short bursts in between shots sustained by Littlefield.

Ryan said one Littlefield wound to the head was most likely fired while Littlefield was down on his back.

Ryan used drawings and a mannequin to demonstrate his theories of the crime to the jury.

The expert said he could not determine which victim was shot first.

Earlier in the trial, a defense psychiatrist said Routh told him he shot Littlefield first and then Kyle just as Kyle emptied the gun he was using for target practice at the range.

Routh told the psychiatrist he shot Littlefield in the head after the initial shots to stop him from “twitching.”

Routh’s defense claims he was insane at the time of the crime and unable to tell right from wrong.

Prosecutors claim Routh was impaired by constant drug and alcohol use, but did know right from wrong. Experts testifying for the state said Routh, a former U.S. Marine, did not have post-traumatic stress as he claimed in the past because he never saw combat and did not suffer serious trauma.

Closing arguments could come as soon as Tuesday with deliberations to follow.

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[State Presents Rebuttal in "American Sniper" Trial]]>Fri, 20 Feb 2015 18:31:53 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Routh+Trial+021715.jpgThe ex-Marine charged with shooting "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle and another man was not legally insane, according to an expert for the prosecution.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Defense Rests in 'American Sniper' Murder Trial]]>Thu, 19 Feb 2015 20:46:11 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Routh-021315.jpg

The defense rested late Thursday in the Stephenville, Texas, trial of Eddie Ray Routh for the murders of "American Sniper" Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield two years ago. Prosecution rebuttal witnesses are scheduled Friday with closing arguments and jury deliberation to follow Monday.

Routh’s attorneys presented two days of defense evidence from Routh’s girlfriend, his family and an expert psychiatrist. They all said Routh suffered from severe mental illness at the time of the murders.

Dr. Mitchell H. Dunn, a forensic psychiatrist at the Terrell State Hospital, said he has been involved with criminal insanity issues for more than 20 years.

Dunn reviewed medical records, police reports, witness interviews, videos and crime scene photos in Routh’s case. He said he interviewed Routh, a former U.S. Marine, for more than six hours in April 2014 at the Erath County Jail, longer than the typical prisoner interview.

Routh’s hospitalizations for mental health issues began in 2011. Dunn said Routh suffered delusions in the weeks before his arrest, including the belief that cannibals were trying to cook and eat him at his job in a cabinet shop. He was released from the Dallas Veterans Affairs Hospital in January 2013, just days before the murders.

“They believed he had psychotic symptoms and mental illness and not one that was going to go away when he was not intoxicated,” Dunn said.

Dunn said Routh suffered from schizophrenia, delusional beliefs and disorganized thinking leading up to the time of the murders.

Kyle planned to take Routh on an outing at the Rough Creek Lodge shooting range to help with what the VA had diagnosed as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

That day, Routh thought the victims were “pig assassins, hybrid pigs sent here to kill people,” Dunn said. “He was acting in self-defense to kill them before they killed him.”

Dunn concluded that Routh suffered from “a severe mental disease or defect and did not know his conduct was wrong” the day of the murders.

Prosecutors blame drug and alcohol abuse and claim Routh did know right from wrong. State rebuttal witnesses will address those claims Friday.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Routh's Sister, Girlfriend Testify in 'Sniper' Trial]]>Wed, 18 Feb 2015 17:54:28 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Routh-021315.jpgPeople close to Eddie Ray Routh took the witness stand in his defense Wednesday for the killings of American Sniper Chris Kyle and friend Chad Littlefield. Routh’s former girlfriend testified that he proposed marriage to her the night before the murders and she said yes.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Prosecution Rests in 'American Sniper' Murder Trial]]>Tue, 17 Feb 2015 22:48:22 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Routh+Trial+021715.jpgEddie Routh’s mother testified in his defense Tuesday afternoon after the state rested its case in the "American Sniper" murder trial.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Taped Confession Takes Center Stage at Sniper Trial]]>Mon, 16 Feb 2015 17:51:34 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Routh+Confession+021615.jpgThe jury in the Eddie Ray Routh "American Sniper" murder trial watched the taped confession and Routh apologizing for the crimes. Routh's defense team claims he was insane at the time he killed Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield.]]><![CDATA[Kyle, Littlefield Armed When Shot, Killed: Ranger]]>Thu, 12 Feb 2015 16:40:02 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Routh+trial+weapons+evidence.jpgA Texas Ranger testified Thursday that Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield were armed when they were shot multiple times. Texas Ranger Michael Adcock said it didn't appear the weapons carried by Kyle and Chad Littlefield were ever removed from their holsters.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Routh Chase Video Played in Court]]>Thu, 12 Feb 2015 14:58:34 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Routh+Surrender+021215.jpgA 12 minute dashcam video was played during Eddie Ray Routh's capital murder trial Thursday. Lancaster police say the video shows officers chasing and arresting defendant Eddie Ray Routh in Chris Kyle's stolen truck on the night the "American Sniper" author and Chad Littlefield were shot at the Rough Creek Lodge and Resort in 2013. (The video is silent per instructions from Judge Jason Cashon)

Photo Credit: Lancaster Police]]>
<![CDATA[Kyle's Widow Testifies in 'American Sniper' Murder Trial]]>Thu, 12 Feb 2015 10:30:58 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/routh-trial-taya-02.jpgTaya Kyle testified Wednesday in the opening of the murder trial of Eddie Ray Routh, accused of killing her husband and Chad Littlefield at a Texas shooting range two years ago.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Publicity Complicates Jury Selection in Major Trials]]>Wed, 11 Feb 2015 13:05:43 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/routh-court-021115-02.jpg

Texas lived up to its reputation for swift justice by taking just three days to seat a jury for the trial of the man charged with killing the former Navy SEAL depicted in "American Sniper." But jury selection in two other major U.S. cases is taking much longer.

While opening statements are set for Wednesday in Texas in the killing of veteran Chris Kyle, hundreds of prospective jurors in the Colorado theater shooting begin returning to the courthouse for months of questioning about their views on the death penalty and mental illness. And jury selection in the Boston Marathon bombing has dragged on for more than a month, and not just because of interruptions from snowstorms.

All three cases are complicated by heavy publicity. The Boston and Colorado trials are also problematic because of the large number of people affected by the attacks and because the death penalty is on the table. Only jurors willing to sentence someone to death can be selected for such cases.

"The most difficult prospect for jury selection in high-profile cases is to ascertain which of your pool, despite what they have heard, read and seen, can keep an open mind," said Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, a jury consultant who worked on big cases such as the O.J. Simpson trial.

A look at the three sensational cases unfolding in courtrooms around the U.S.:


About 9,000 prospective jurors were summoned starting Jan. 20 for the trial of James Holmes in what experts say was the biggest jury pool in U.S. history.

During the first phase, thousands filled out 75-question surveys. Hundreds will return for the second phase, which could last 16 weeks, as attorneys individually question just six people per day.

The 12 jurors ultimately picked will decide whether Holmes was insane when he killed 12 people and wounded 70 in a 2012 attack on a suburban Denver theater during a screening of the latest Batman movie. If the jury rejects his insanity claim, it will decide whether he should be executed.

The judge has already dismissed more than 1,000 people who cited various reasons for not being able to serve on the trial, which could run through October.


More than 1,350 prospective jurors were called to federal court in early January to complete a detailed, 28-page questionnaire for the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, accused in the 2013 bombing that killed three people and wounded more than 260. The jury will decide whether Tsarnaev is guilty, and if so, whether he lives or dies.

The judge began individual questioning Jan. 15. The process has been repeatedly interrupted by huge snowstorms that closed the courthouse and by requests from Tsarnaev's lawyers that the trial be moved from the city that was so traumatized by the bloodshed.

But the judge said last week that locals have shown themselves capable of being impartial and that "substantial progress" has been made. The judge has not set a date for opening statements.


The Oscar-nominated movie was released weeks before the start of jury selection, raising questions about whether it would be harder to find unbiased jurors. But a jury was seated Monday, a day ahead of schedule, and the judge estimated no more than two dozen people were dismissed because of publicity about the case.

Eddie Ray Routh, a troubled former Marine, is charged with murder, accused of fatally shooting Kyle and another man after they took him to a gun range to help him deal with his problems.

Routh's attorneys plan to pursue an insanity defense. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty.

About 800 potential jurors were summoned, more than four times the usual number. The pool was narrowed down during a screening process that took two days. Candidates filled out a questionnaire about whether they had read Kyle's memoir or seen the movie, served in the military or were familiar with guns.

Simply reading Kyle's book or seeing the movie were not grounds for dismissal. Instead, potential jurors were asked if they could set aside what they had heard.


By comparison, jury selection in the murder trial of O.J. Simpson lasted about two months in 1994. It took three weeks to empanel a jury in the case of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh in 1997. There were about two weeks of jury selection in the case of Conrad Murray, the former doctor convicted of killing Michael Jackson in 2011. And seating a jury in the court-martial of Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Hasan, convicted of killing 13 people in a 2009 at Fort Hood, Texas, took just a week.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA['American Sniper' Trial to Begin Wednesday]]>Thu, 12 Feb 2015 01:03:08 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Routh-Kyle-Littlefield.jpgOpening statements are scheduled to begin Wednesday morning in the trial of Eddie Ray Routh, who was accused of killing Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield in February 2013.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Eddie Ray Routh at Camp Fallujah]]>Tue, 10 Feb 2015 15:20:12 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/ERR-19.jpgThese are photos of Eddie Ray Routh at Camp Fallujah in 2008. Routh is on trial for the murder of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle at a North Texas gun range in 2013.

Photo Credit: Warfighter Foundation ]]>
<![CDATA[Jury Seated in Chris Kyle Slaying Trial]]>Mon, 09 Feb 2015 18:21:55 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/routh-in-court.jpgA jury has been seated in the trial of the man accused of fatally shooting a former Navy SEAL depicted in the Oscar-nominated film "American Sniper."

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Chad Littlefield's Parents Get Strength From Slain Son]]>Tue, 10 Feb 2015 15:31:33 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Chad-Littlefield-Parents.jpg

"Mom, life is so good it's scary."

Chad Littlefield was in high spirits when he spoke those words on Feb. 1, 2013. When he stopped by his parents' Desoto home for lunch that Friday afternoon, he stayed a little longer than usual.

The younger of Don and Judy Littlefield's two boys, Chad spoke of his little girl and where he was spiritually. After about an hour, he hugged and kissed each of his parents and started down the sidewalk toward his truck.

Upon reaching the curb, Chad sat down the package he was carrying then turned and walked back up the sidewalk to give them each another hug. It was a little unusual, but neither Don nor Judy paid it much thought as they resumed their busy afternoon.

"Little did I know that I would cherish that moment for the rest of my life," remembered Judy, smiling through tears as the couple sat on the sofa occasionally holding hands.

"That was orchestrated by God," confirmed Don, speaking with an instinctive cadence after 35 years of coaching. He spoke often of his faith, but never like a man searching. He spoke like a man tested.

The following day, Feb. 2, Chad Littlefield and his close friend, "American Sniper" Chris Kyle, lay dead on an Erath County gun range.

The long distance shooting range, designed by Kyle himself on the grounds of Rough Creek Lodge, was frequented by the pair for both professional training and Chris’s charitable foundation. Shot by a man they were attempting to help, the pair was found that afternoon by an employee of Rough Creek.

Having met as self-described "soccer dads," they became workout partners and fast friends. Chad involved himself in Chris’ foundation and volunteered installing workout equipment in the homes of disabled veterans.

Well before the success of Chris’s bestselling autobiography, the two committed themselves to veteran’s causes and helped them cope with their return to civilian life.

When the trial begins on Feb. 11, Don and Judy Littlefield will be listening to opening arguments on a day when they might have expected to be celebrating Chad’s 38th birthday.

It is a cruel irony, and it hasn’t escaped them.

To spend an afternoon sitting across from Don and Judy is to receive a lesson in resilience. They speak of their faith in a way that seems to transcend dogma, looking often at one another as it seamlessly enters the conversation. It is never uncomfortable or forced, never wielded as a shield or crutch. It is as much a part of their fabric as their family or career.

It becomes quickly evident that Chad inherited his peacemaker predisposition. Despite his imposing build, he was the first to insist that family and friends quickly sit down and work through conflict. He regarded it as less uncomfortable than senseless, insisting that they "talk things out" and waste little time on anger or resentment.

"We decided we could get bitter or better," explained Don as the pair spoke of the night of Feb. 2, 2013.

They had been called out of bed and sat at the home of Chris and Taya Kyle awaiting word of their son’s fate. It was some time before they knew, and on speaking of that moment Judy added simply:

"We chose better."

It is a difficult place, being asked to speculate about the feelings of their son. But when asked what Chad would miss most the answer was quick and decisive.

"He would miss not being there to see his daughter grow up - to celebrate her accomplishments," they agreed of the doting father.

Their granddaughter, now 9 years old, has remained a central part of their lives.

It is an answer that may seem obvious enough, but when looking into the eyes of a parent who has tragically lost a son, the question itself seems almost silly.

Don and Judy spoke easily and freely about Chad. They were quick to laugh when Judy remembered a day when she looked at Don and said, "You know, I can't think of one thing Chad ever did wrong."

"Let me refresh your memory," laughed Don with a more realistic recollection of their son’s childhood.

They sometimes spoke of Chad in the present tense, seemingly less a product of denial than the absence of resolution. Their close relationship with Chad was evident in the way they remembered him, speaking fondly of course, but more noticeably without guilt. Their position is one to be anguished over, and envied. And though the Littlefield's have a practical grasp of the fact that we’re all ultimately doomed to be forgotten, they’ve committed to honoring Chad in a way that says simply:

Not yet.

To get to know Don and Judy Littlefield is to become invested in justice. Perhaps it is their unshakable faith, or the striking presence of perspective and grace.

As a parent, maybe it is the startling reality that it could happen to any of us, at any time. Chad's story is a wakeup call to the peacemaker in all of us, to make amends, to walk back up that sidewalk for one more hug.

And to hear their story and be entrusted to tell it – to tell Chad's story – is to be forever changed.

Profoundly so.

More: Stephenville Empire-Tribune

Photo Credit: Jon Koonsman/Don Littlefield]]>
<![CDATA['American Sniper' Trial May See Insanity Defense]]>Fri, 06 Feb 2015 22:56:19 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Eddie+Ray+Routh+court+room.jpgA reduced pool of 263 qualified jurors returns to continue jury selection Monday after two days of the Eddie Ray Routh murder trial in Stephenville.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Eddie Routh Jury Selection Continues]]>Fri, 06 Feb 2015 17:33:02 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/routh.jpgJury selection continued Friday in the trial of Eddie Ray Routh, who is accused of killing Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield, and defense lawyers were looking for jurors willing to consider an insanity defense.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Insanity Defense Planned in 'American Sniper' Murder Trial]]>Sat, 07 Feb 2015 13:31:24 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/donald-jones-justice.jpg

A reduced pool of 263 qualified jurors returns to continue jury selection Monday after two days of the Eddie Ray Routh murder trial in Stephenville.

Routh, a former U.S. Marine, is accused of killing former Navy Seal Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield two years ago at the Rough Creek Lodge shooting range near Glen Rose.

Kyle’s life is depicted in the recent movie American Sniper.

The Erath County District Clerk contacted an enormous group of 800 citizens for jury duty to seat an impartial panel of 12 jurors plus two alternates for the high profile case. More than half were eliminated due to mailing address problems and legal exemptions before in-person selection began Thursday.

Dozens more were eliminated for various reasons after appearing in court before Judge Jason Cashon.

“The judge was great,” said excused juror Hemi Ahluwalia. “He tried to alleviate the stress in there. I think that he knew we were all taking it seriously and he tried to not make it where we were all so stressed.”

Routh’s attorneys want jurors who will be open to an insanity defense.

Routh’s family said the victims were helping Routh deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at the time of the crime.

Some potential jurors eliminated from the case voiced opinions that demonstrate the strong feelings about an insanity defense in Erath County.

Brook Bearden was excused because of commitments for his work as a rodeo judge.

“I think maybe he’s using it as an excuse more than anything,” Bearden said. “Those guys went through probably a lot of horrific things, but at the same time there’s tens of thousands of guys that went over there and come back, they didn’t commit this kind of crime.”

Dr. Julie Merriman trains mental health professionals at Tarleton State University in Stephenville. She has treated veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“In a true flash back in PTSD, it’s as if the experience is happening right here, right now,” she said.

Dr. Merriman said she hopes the Routh trial sheds light on the need for additional mental health resources for veterans and other people with serious problems.

“Mental health issues are real,” she said. “It’s not just a cop out.”

Prosecutors are seeking a sentence of life in prison for Routh if convicted.

“I would like to see the details of the trial and see what actually happened,” excused juror Jeremiah Moody said.

The same can be said for family members of the victims.

Chad Littlefield’s parents granted an exclusive interview to Jon Koonsman, a columnist for the Stephenville Empire-Tribune, who is covering the trial for the paper.

“They don’t know a lot more than we do,” Koonsman told NBC 5 about the Littlefields and their knowledge of the facts of the case. “There’s been a lot reported in the papers and on television about the defendant. And I think until we really get in there and see the evidence we just, we don’t know.”

About his conversation with the Littlefields, Koonsman described it as “like a lesson in perspective and grace.”

“They’re people of exceptional faith and they’ve suffered an unthinkable tragedy and they’re just trying to move forward with it,” Koonsman said. “They have a really objective view of justice. They’re not wanting a lynching. They want to get in here and hear the evidence. And they hope justice is administered accordingly.”

Judge Cashon intends to complete jury selection by Tuesday and begin testimony Wednesday. He told jurors the trial is expected to last two weeks after that.

NBC 5's Ben Russell and Todd L. Davis contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Eddie Ray Routh Trial to Begin in Stephenville]]>Tue, 03 Feb 2015 09:07:51 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Eddie+Ray+Routh+court+room.jpg

Two years after the murder of “American Sniper” Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield, Erath County is preparing for the trial of the pair's accused killer, Eddie Ray Routh.

The county seat of Stephenville expects perhaps hundreds of media representatives and other trial participants, so restaurants and hotels are preparing for extra business.

“Everybody in Stephenville knows about it,” said Carol Gibson, owner of the “Rockin’ P” nightclub on the town square.

She plans to serve lunch to help accommodate the extra visitors.

“We’re just going to do like a quick lunch, limited menu. We normally don’t open until four, but we’re going to open earlier. And I am expecting a huge crowd,” she said.

Jury selection begins Thursday.

Stephenville’s small criminal courthouse has very limited space and District Clerk Wanda Pringle on Monday outlined strict rules planned for coverage of the trial.

Pringle said a jury pool of 175 is typical for a trial, but she sent notices to 800 Erath County citizens in hopes of finding a dozen impartial jurors plus alternates for this big case.

Routh is accused of killing Kyle and Littlefield on Feb. 2, 2013, at an Erath County shooting range Authorities said the victims were helping Routh with symptoms of post-traumatic stress. Routh’s defense is expected to center on the illness.

“Did he really know what he was doing or did he not know what he was doing,” Gibson said. “That’s what everybody thinks the question is going to be.”

Rockin’ P Bartender Victoria Cain is also a senior at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, majoring in criminal justice.

“We know he did it and in the United States people are very opinionated about whether or not they believe in an insanity plea,” Cain said.

That is one of the challenges in choosing an impartial jury for the capital murder trial.

Media will be forbidden from taking cell phones or computers into the courtroom. Only paper and pens are allowed. So there will be no live tweeting of this trial as has become common in many big cases. Judge Jason Cashon was still considering Monday whether to allow microphones for television reporting of the trial. One camera will be permitted to provide pool pictures of the proceedings to broadcast media.

The judge expects to have a jury seated and begin testimony by Wednesday, Feb. 11.

The trial could last two weeks.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Midlothian Honors "American Sniper" Chris Kyle]]>Tue, 03 Feb 2015 09:06:48 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/chris+kyle.jpg

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott officially proclaimed Feb. 2 as Chris Kyle Day in honor of the U.S. Navy SEAL known as the deadliest sniper in U.S. Military history.

Kyle served four tours in Iraq, but lived in Midlothian.

City leaders said they’re proud of Kyle’s service to his country.

“I was proud, proud of our community and proud of Chris for what he represented, not just to Midlothian, but to the state of Texas and our country,” said Midlothian Mayor Bill Houston. “He did a job and performed in a way that most of us wouldn’t do, wouldn’t be capable of doing and I’m thankful he did it, and I’m honored he was from Midlothian.”

Robert “Duce” Cato, a friend and board member of “Guardian of Heroes Foundation” founded by Chris Kyle, says today is about thanking all veterans.

“Chris, I don’t think he realized how many people he saved, how many lives he has touched and how many he will continue to touch as generations get older, read his book, see his movie. He will live on for an eternity,” Cato said.

“I don’t know that Chris would have wanted this national attention, but at the end of the day, he has it, he got it, and at the end of the day it brings awareness to what he strived for everyday when he got out of the Navy,” Cato said.

Kyle was dedicated to helping veterans, and was at a gun range with a veteran who was reportedly suffering from post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD when he was killed. Kyle and his friend, Chad Littlefield, were shot to death.

“When he was taken away from us, everybody mourned deeply for him, but we continue to press on with his vision and his legacy and ensure that that never dies,” Cato said.

In a statement Cato said:  

“Chief (SEAL) Kyle is a long-time friend, hunting buddy and brother-in-arms. His death was a shock to the nation. For Gov. Abbott to declare February 2nd “Chris Kyle Day” is not only a great honor to a great son, brother, warrior, father and friend but it’s just one more way to ensure his legacy will live on for an eternity. He is missed every day. He is a veteran that all veterans should emulate.” 

Governor Abbott’s proclamation reads in part as follows:

"By proclaiming today, February 2, 2015, as Chris Kyle Day, I recognize — as Chief Petty Officer Kyle would insist — that he is the face of a larger force for freedom that has made this country the bravest, strongest and freest in the history of the world. Kyle is one of the legions of valiant warriors who made the ultimate commitment to our country: they put their lives on the line for a cause greater than themselves. They faced risks few Americans can comprehend, but all Americans should honor. So many Texans like Kyle have served with unmatched honor, bravery and heroism, and a grateful country is better because of them.”

Photo Credit: Kevin Cokely & Amanda Guerra, NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Trial to Begin Soon for Eddie Ray Routh]]>Mon, 02 Feb 2015 18:31:34 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Eddie+Ray+Routh+court+room.jpgPreparations are underway for an emotional trial in Stephenville, where Eddie Ray Routh's fate will be decided on charges he killed Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Petition Aims to Name Road After Sniper Chris Kyle]]>Mon, 02 Feb 2015 08:15:55 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Kyle-Littlefield-Split.jpg

A North Texas educator is pushing once again to name a stretch of roadway after former U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, subject of the movie "American Sniper."

Teacher Dana Morris has tried once before to name a road after Kyle. In 2013, she challenged House Bill 3520 in an effort to rename a part of Central Expressway for Kyle, but she was unsuccessful.

Now, Morris wants to name a roadway in Ellis County after Kyle, and another after his friend Chad Littlefield. A Change.org petition Morris created has more than 2,000 signatures so far. 

She is also working with leaders to help draft legislation, which is due in March, according to Morris.

Morris said she can’t reveal which stretch of roadways she wants to see named for Kyle and Littlefield, but said if it comes to fruition she wants their families to decide the exact names.

“Honestly, this is about creating a legacy for a legend,” Morris said.

The petition comes as the movie American Sniper, which depicts Chris Kyle’s life, breaks records at the box office. The film grossed $31.9 million Super Bowl weekend alone.

Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott will declare Feb. 2 Chris Kyle Day. Abbott announced his plans while speaking to a Texas Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention in Austin.

Abbott will issue a formal proclamation Monday.

Kyle was killed along with Littlefield on Feb. 2, 2013 at a North Texas gun range. Kyle, who is considered the deadliest sniper in U.S. Military history, completed four tours in Iraq. He was 37 years old.

Photo Credit: NBC 5]]>
<![CDATA[Bradley Cooper Visits Soldiers at TX Hospital]]>Thu, 22 Jan 2015 09:43:20 -0600https://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/cooper4.JPG

"American Sniper" star and Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper paid a surprise visit to military members and hospital patients in San Antonio.

Cooper stopped by Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio on Jan. 14 to meet the service men and women.

About 260 service members and staff got to preview Cooper's new movie, in which he portrays North Texas military sniper Chris Kyle.

The film is based on the life of Kyle, the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history and a U.S. Navy SEAL.

While the movie was playing in the auditorium of the hospital, Cooper visited patients, staff and soldiers in the Institute of Surgical Research Burn Center Rehabilitation Gym. He signed movie posters and t-shirts for them.

Cooper was joined by Chris Kyle's father, Wayne, and two veterans who were also in the movie.

A Marine tearfully thanked Cooper for his portrayal of Kyle.

CLICK HERE to see photos of Cooper's visit on the Brooke Army Medical Center's Facebook page.

Photo Credit: Brooke Army Medical Center, Robert Shields, photographer]]>