By JESSIE HORTON
STEPHENVILLE (February 12, 2015) — As the second day of trial got underway in the 266th Judicial Court, it was a day of stark differences – with the morning drawn out, the afternoon full of both loud and sad.
The morning began with the presentation of evidence by the prosecution continuing from the day before in the State of Texas vs. Eddie Ray Routh. Some of the national media grew bored, some going home altogether, and the courtroom was noticeably less packed Thursday.
Routh is the military veteran accused of killing former US Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and his friend, Chad Littlefield, at Rough Creek Lodge on February 2, 2013. The attorneys for Rough have made it clear they will pursue an insanity defense, even pointing out evidence in the videos presented by the state’s attorneys where their client says he doesn’t know if he’s “going insane” or not to police officers just before he leads them on a high-speed chase through Lancaster.
Erath County District Attorney Alan Nash and Assistant Texas Attorney General Jane Starnes presented their case with several boxes of evidence including photos and a number of handguns, spent shells and casings, all taken from the scene at Rough Creek Lodge. The evidence included at least one of the weapons used in the actual incident.
Coming back from lunch, once again, brought warnings from the prosecution that evidence presented would contain rough language and then medical examiner’s photos from both Kyle and Littlefield’s autopsies.
As jurors watched videos of Lancaster Police’s encounter with Routh, those sitting just in front of the victims’ families could hear them quietly debating Routh’s sanity in incredibly hushed whispers from their seats in the courtroom.
“If he knew where to make all those turns and get on I-35, and then to obey all their commands, he can’t be crazy, right?”
“You’d think. But did you hear him? People eating his soul? Anarchy and the apocalypse? That seems pretty crazy.”
Which seemed to be the exact point the defense wanted to prove. Shay Isham, attorney for Routh, cross examined the Lancaster PD officers who were on scene and involved in the chase that ended in Routh’s capture. His line of questions focused on if the officers heard statements Routh made while talking to Lancaster detective Jesus Chevera, also Routh’s neighbor.
One video submitted for evidence was from a body camera on an officer on scene who was testing the equipment for the department that day. It captured much, but not all, of the conversations and actions by Lancaster PD and Routh leading up to the pursuit and capture of the suspect, according to Lancaster CID Lt. Michael Smith.
At the time of the incident on February 2, 2013, Smith was serving as the assistant chief of police, and he testified that before the officer with the body camera arrived on scene, Routh told he and Chevera that he’d just “taken a couple of souls and had some more souls to take.”
Just before peeling out and taking officers on a chase across Lancaster to I-35, Routh tells officers he will not roll the window down because “my soul’s on this side of the window and so is my hide.” He continued on, saying he was nervous because of all the movement he could see around the truck he was sitting in (which were the officers attempting to deploy stop sticks) and how he had people feeding on his soul earlier and that didn’t feel good.
As Kyle’s all black Ford F-350 with a lift kit driven by Routh takes off, the dash cameras in Lancaster PD units took over for the body camera, showing a chase with speeds in excess of 100 mph according to the officers who were involved.
Before recessing for the day, Nash and Starnes called Dallas County Medical Examiner Dr. Jeffrey Barnard, who performed both autopsies. Through drawings, reports, x-rays and photos taken the morning after the murders, Barnard told the jury Kyle was shot six times in the head, back and side. He testified that of the six times he was shot, any one of four of the shots would have killed Kyle. Littlefield was shot seven times in the head, back and hand, and Barnard testified that any one of five of those shots would have killed Littlefield.
The Donald R. Jones Justice Center will open its doors at 8 a.m. Friday for the public, and the trial will get back underway at 9 a.m. Road closures around the building will continue throughout Friday and next week from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m.
There are lots of ways to keep up with the trial locally without fighting the traffic, closed streets and security, including online right here on The Flash, by listening to KWBY or on either of our Facebook or Twitter accounts (FB – Flash || KWBY; Twitter – Flash || KWBY).