'American Sniper' Trial Continues Monday - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Famed "American Sniper" author and a friend were killed at a North Texas gun range

'American Sniper' Trial Continues Monday

Officer recalls Routh seemed under the influence after arrest

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Taped Confession Takes Center Stage at Sniper Trial

    The 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. (Published Monday, Feb. 16, 2015)

    The prosecution could rest Tuesday in the Stephenville, Texas, murder trial of Eddie Ray Routh.

    On Monday, the Erath County jury saw a videotaped confession Routh gave the night of the February 2013 murders of "American Sniper" Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield.

    Routh gave the statement to Texas Ranger Danny Briley, the lead investigator on the case.

    Briley was the first Texas Ranger at the Rough Creek Lodge shooting range where the victims were found. Briley said he knew he was dealing with a violent suspect as soon as he saw the bodies.

    "This number of gunshot wounds, you can't accidentally kill someone," Briley said.

    Briley said Routh became the suspect after a call from Routh’s sister saying that her brother had stopped at her home in Midlothian driving a new pickup truck, admitting he had taken two souls to get it.

    Routh’s mother had asked Kyle to help Routh, a former U.S. Marine, with post-traumatic stress.

    Briley interviewed Routh at the Lancaster police station on the night of the shootings after Routh was arrested driving Kyle’s stolen truck.

    “Anything you’d like to say to the families?” Briley asked.

    “I’m sorry for what I’ve done,” Routh replied.

    On the recording Routh clearly admits the murders and says he knew "right from wrong" but also makes strange comments and exhibits what Briley admitted to the jury was bizarre behavior.

    “If I did not take down his soul, he was going to take down mine,” Routh said in the recording.

    Routh said he believed he had to kill the victims because he thought they were out to kill him.

    “I’ve got tons of people eating on my soul,” Routh said.

    “How many people did you have to kill today?” Briley asked.

    “Two,” Routh replied.

    Routh admitted smoking marijuana earlier on the day of the murders.

    Prosecutors suggested drug and alcohol abuse were to blame for Routh’s bizarre behavior.

    In cross-examination at the end of Monday’s court session, Briley conceded no blood-alcohol test was ordered at the time of Routh’s arrest to verify the cause of his behavior.

    Routh’s defense lawyers recapped the taped interview with Maj. Briley line-by-line and questioned why Briley did not probe deeper into the bizarre remarks Routh made.

    Briley said much of what Routh said were just “philosophical” remarks that did not pertain to the crime.

    The first witness Monday was Erath County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Kenny Phillips who transported Routh from the Lancaster Jail to the Erath County Jail.

    Phillips said Routh appeared to be “under the influence” at the time and said Routh spent a while after that in “a detox situation.”

    Phillips said Routh now receives daily medication at the jail.

    Other law enforcement witnesses Monday spoke about telephone and text message records and other physical evidence that link the victim to the crime.

    Routh’s lawyers claim a history of mental illness left him unable to determine right from wrong at the time of the crime.

    Defense evidence will be presented after the state rests.

    The first week of testimony ended Friday with other alleged confessions by Routh for the murders of both Kyle and Littlefield.

    Testimony in First Week Recaps Routh's State

    As the first week of the trial wound to a close Friday, Routh's uncle, James Watson, said he smoked marijuana with his nephew the morning of the killings and quoted the 27-year-old defendant as saying later that day, "I'm driving a dead man's truck," when referencing Kyle's pickup.

    A former Erath Sheriff's Deputy told jurors about a jailhouse confession he overheard months later from Routh. Former Deputy Gene Cole, now a Belton police officer, said he heard Routh speaking in the Erath County Jail in June 2013 about the Feb. 2, 2013 murders.

    "I shot them because they wouldn't talk to me," Cole quoted Routh as saying. "I was just riding in the back seat of the truck and nobody would talk to me. They were just taking me to the range, so I shot them. I feel bad about it, but they wouldn't talk to me. I am sure they have forgiven me."

    The victims were found dead at the Rough Creek Lodge shooting range in Erath County where Kyle had taken Routh for therapy at the request of Routh's mother.

    Routh was arrested hours after the murders while driving Kyle's stolen pickup. He led police on a short chase from his Lancaster home to Interstate 35E at Wheatland Road in Dallas.

    Kyle, whose military career is depicted in the book and movie "American Sniper," had helped many veteran's with post-traumatic stress.  Routh's relatives have said he suffered from PTSD after his four years as a U.S. Marine.

    Routh's State of Mind

    Routh's uncle testified Friday that his nephew did know right from wrong. Called as a state witness in the trial, Watson said he visited his nephew the morning of the murders at Routh's home in Lancaster.

    Watson said Routh was distraught at the time about a fight with his girlfriend and trouble finding a good job. Watson said he and Routh smoked marijuana and may have had whiskey that morning. He said Routh left quickly when Kyle came by to pick him up for the planned outing that day.

    Later that evening, Watson said Routh stopped by his home in Alvarado with a new pickup and handgun. Watson said the remark about "a dead man's truck" was not alarming at the time because Routh sometimes referred to himself as a 'dead man.'

    Texas Ranger David Armstrong testified that he searched Routh's Lancaster home after the arrest and found marijuana, drug paraphernalia and a nearly empty bottle of whiskey.

    Defense attorney Tim Moore said in opening statements Wednesday that Routh was suffering from severe mental illness at the time of the crime and could not tell right from wrong. Moore said Routh was repeatedly treated by the Veteran's Administration and released with antipsychotic drugs.

    Armstrong said that antipsychotic medications were found in the search of Routh's home.

    At the conclusion of the opening remarks, Judge Jason Cashon ordered all devices that could record or stream audio, or be used to report proceedings live, removed from the courtroom during the trial. Follow along with the trial as NBC 5's Ken Kalthoff, NBC's Jacob Rascon and The Dallas Morning News' Dianna Hunt and Tasha Tsiaperas tweet the latest updates from the overflow room outside of the courtroom. Their Twitter feeds can be seen below.

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