By JESSIE HORTON
STEPHENVILLE (February 24, 2015) — Guilty. It took just a little more than two hours for a jury of two men and 10 women to return a verdict in the State of Texas v. Eddie Ray Routh.
Just after 9 p.m., the jury returned and Routh was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole amid tears from the Kyle and Littlefield families, though Taya Kyle, who has sat through nearly all the trial, was noticeably missing from the courtroom since she stormed out during closing statements.
After sentencing, two members of the Littlefield family stood for victim impact statements.
“You killed two heroes that day,” Jerry Richardson told Routh. “You’re a disgrace to your family and now they will carry the scar you gave them – murder.”
Littlefield’s father also stood before Routh, who watched the statements intently.
“The state has decided to spare your life. That’s more than you gave Chad,” Don Littlefield said. “You claim you did not know Chad’s name when you brutally murdered him, but now you will have the rest of your wasted life to remember — his name was Chad Littlefield.”
The trial resumed Tuesday morning following a weather delay Monday, and attorneys from both sides continued questioning expert witnesses from both the state as well as the defense. The jury was asked to consider what exactly was going through the mind of Routh the afternoon of February 2, 2013, as he shot Chad Littlefield and Chris Kyle at Rough Creek Lodge. The question was – did Routh know what he was doing when he pulled the trigger of two different guns 12 or 13 times.
“He shot Chad (Littlefield) dead. dead. dead. dead. dead. dead.” said Assistant Attorney General Jane Starnes during her closing statements. “He, by his own admission, fled the scene in a stolen truck. He (Routh) said repeatedly he knew what he was doing was wrong, he said that numerous times to several different people.”
Starnes had forensic expert Howard Ryan, who testified that Routh was standing over Littlefield while the man was down on his knees or back, in ‘obvious distress’, when he delivered the final two shots to Littlefield’s head and face.
Ryan also told the jury that Kyle was shot in a very close grouping on his upper right side. He said this was unusual because there is almost always movement when gunfire erupts. However, Ryan testified Kyle’s wounds show almost no sign of movement, indicating they came fast and without warning, he said “Mr. Kyle never saw these shots coming.”
Criminally insane was the term defense attorneys Warren St. John, Shay Isham and Tim Moore used during their closing statements, sighting Dr. Mitchell Dunn’s statements that Routh was psychotic and paranoid without the alcohol and marijuana that were continually in his system. Their claim included facts that Routh suffered from delusions that led to his ‘severe mental disease or defect.’ They said the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Dallas ‘failed this man.’
But the jury didn’t see it that way. And neither did Erath County District Attorney Alan Nash, who spoke with the passion of the nearly 40,000 Erath County residents who elected him.
“This defendant has gone through the deep well of excuses for his violent behavior for far too long, and for two weeks we’ve heard excuses for this and other violent behavior, and I, for one, am tired of it,” Nash told the jury Tuesday evening. “I’ve heard him lie about his military service, I’ve heard him lie about his mental illness and now the defendant’s actions need to speak louder than his words because his words can’t be trusted. He gunned down two men in Erath County. He shot two men in the back in cold blood in our county. Find him guilty.”
And they did. In less than three hours.
Following the trial, Littlefield’s mother, Judy Littlefield, thanked those involved in the trial for their dedication and hard work. But perhaps Don Littlefield spoke for the families best during his victim impact statement.
“We pray for all those affected by this act,” he said. “And it is by the grace of God that we do not become angry, bitter or resentful.”