By JESSIE HORTON
STEPHENVILLE (February 17, 2015) — An approximately $30,000 lump sum and $2,800 monthly payments (that’s $33,600 a year). Yes, Eddie Ray Routh makes more from VA benefits while sitting in the Erath County Jail than most of the county’s residents who pay for him to sit there. The median income of Stephenville is $31,695.
During cross examination of Jodi Routh, Eddie’s mother who first contacted American Sniper Chris Kyle about helping her son, Assistant Attorney General Jane Starnes asked about the benefits her son was receiving from the government. She told the court (minus the jury) Routh received a lump sum, and then began receiving payments from the government after he was arrested for killing both Kyle and Chad Littlefield on February 2, 2013, for disabilities he claimed during multiple trips to the VA Hospital in Dallas.
“Did you know your son filled out forms to receive disability benefits from the VA?” Starnes asked. “Did you know he checked every single body part, every single box he could to receive those benefits?”
Jodi Routh testified in front of the jury for several hours on Tuesday afternoon, and told them she first approached Kyle about helping her son get some workout equipment through his FITCO Cares project. She said after speaking with Kyle and giving him phone numbers to contact her son, the two spoke, but she didn’t know when they planned to meet up or what they were going to do.
“I just wanted him to help my son,” she said of Kyle. “He said he would do anything and everything in his power to help my son.”
She also told the jury about an incident at a family fish fry where Routh and his father got into an argument because Raymond Routh wanted to sell some antique guns so Eddie Ray Routh could attend school. The younger Routh was allegedly drunk and got angry because he said the government should be giving him benefits for his service that would pay for school. The argument lead to Routh threatening to kill his family and himself, so a family friend took all the guns from the house. Routh was taken into custody later that night walking down the street shirtless, and taken to Green Oaks (a private mental hospital in Dallas).
That incident was one of many, including another time when Routh held his girlfriend and her roommate at knifepoint in their apartment, that ended with him in either Green Oaks or the Dallas VA Hospital. One such hospitalization ended just eight days before the murders at Rough Creek Lodge in Erath County. One Jodi Routh said she begged the doctors at the VA not to end.
“You begged the VA, well, the US Government, not to release your son and they did anyway?” Warren St. John for the defense questioned.
“Absolutely, I did,” Jodi Routh responded with tears in her eyes, but never letting them fall. “I told them he wasn’t ready.”
The Donald R. Jones Justice Center will open its doors at 8 a.m. Wednesday for the media and public, and the trial will get back underway at 9 a.m. Road closures around the building will continue 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).