By JESSIE HORTON
STEPHENVILLE (February 16, 2015) — The night of February 2, 2013, Eddie Ray Routh, who was accused of shooting ‘American Sniper’ Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield, said he’d tell their families he was “so sorry for what I’ve done. If I could do it differently, I’d do it so much differently.”
Routh’s taped confession was played for the jury and in rambling statements. The suspect, who looks dramatically different now, tells Texas Ranger Danny Briley, he can’t tell right from wrong. Later he gives dramatic details of the moments before and during the murder amid statements about world councils and about the chaos he sees on the news.
A main point of contention during the course of the trial has been if Routh did, in fact, know what he was doing was wrong. While officers deemed him a possible drug user with anti-government views, the defense attempted to use the video to prove Routh was not able of understanding right from wrong.
The video showed just over an hour of Briley and Routh speaking and breaks when Routh was speaking with a Lancaster PD officer just off camera while they wait for Briley to return. In the video, Routh calls Kyle and Littlefield ‘head hunters,’ and said he had to ‘take their souls’ before they took his.
“I’m on the top side of the world and they’re not,” Routh said at one point when asked about the two men he shot. On the video, when Briley asked what the two did after he shot them, Routh said, “They just laid there, not breathing anymore.”
More than once in the video, Briley asked Routh if he understood what he did was wrong, even asking if he knows “there are two families out there grieving right now,” to which Routh nods. After admitting he ‘took two souls today,’ Routh is asked where he shot Littlefield. Instead of answering the question, Routh asks for his parents. He repeatedly asked for them, once telling Briley (I) ‘just want to hug my mom one last time.’
To prove he was aware of his actions, Erath County District Attorney Alan Nash pointed out that Routh could tell Briley, during the interview, exactly what kinds of weapons he’d shot during the day and other specific details about the day. Nash said when Routh was asked about times events occurred, they were always very close and that he knew killing the men was wrong, even using the word ‘fled’ when telling Briley how he left the scene of the murders.
When asked how far away from Kyle and Littlefield he was, Routh said he was close, “right up close. I didn’t mean to be so close.” Briley asked if the two men knew Routh was going to shoot them and he shook his head. When Briley asked why, Routh told him, “Because my training was better than theirs, you know, my life.”
During his time on the witness stand, Briley said he believed Routh was trying to set up a self defense claim at one point in the interview, and Routh’s attorney, Tim Moor,e jumped at the statement. Noting that the state has a self defense law, he and Nash went at the definition, arguing if the law was ‘apparent danger’ or ‘imminent danger’.
“When justified, the danger must be imminent and real,” Nash said. “It must be a real danger to a rational person.”
Moore argued that “under our law, a person is allowed to use force, deadly force, if they believe in their reasonable mind, that another person is going to hurt you.” However, Nash countered that the definition of self defense would be “to protect yourself from the imminent danger as perceived by a reasonable person.” He said Routh was not reasonable and Kyle and Littlefield were no a threat to anyone, least of all Routh.
“Tell me, are men who get shot in the head, in the face, in the back, are those men a threat to anyone?” Nash asked as he concluded his questioning of Briley. “He (Routh) nodded when asked if he understood his rights as read to him, he never asked to stop the interview, he never asked for a lawyer. He (Routh) never once told you he was in danger either, did he? No, he didn’t, because he wasn’t. A man who is shot in the back and in the top of his head isn’t a danger to you.”