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.