STEPHENVILLE, Texas — Eddie Ray Routh spoke of insanity, anarchy and the apocalypse when police tried to arrest him after the shooting deaths of “American Sniper” author Chris Kyle and his friend.
Much of the dramatic evidence presented by prosecutors so far in Routh’s capital murder trial, including the police video of his arrest, has outlined for jurors his actions and words on the day Kyle and Chad Littlefield were killed at a rural Texas shooting range two years ago. Testimony is set to continue Friday.
Defense attorneys are mounting an insanity defense for the former Marine. Prosecutors have described the 27-year-old as a troubled drug user who knew right from wrong despite any history of mental illnesses.
If convicted, Routh faces life in prison without parole. Prosecutors aren’t seeking the death penalty.
The case has drawn intense interest, largely because of the Oscar-nominated film based on Kyle’s memoir that details his four tours in Iraq. The film has grossed nearly $300 million.
On Thursday, prosecutors presented a video in which officers spoke with Routh as he sat in the pickup that authorities said he took from Kyle after fleeing the shooting range where Kyle and Littlefield were killed. He refused to leave the vehicle and eventually sped off with police in pursuit.
At one point during the chase, the video shows that a police vehicle rammed the pickup. Eventually the car became disabled along the side of the road.
The video showed officers trying to talk Routh into surrendering as he makes comments such as, “Anarchy has been killing the world,” ”I don’t know if I’m going insane,” and, “Is this about hell walking on earth right now?”
Authorities say Routh had earlier driven to his sister’s house, admitted to the killings and told his sister, “People were sucking his soul.”
Lancaster police Lt. Michael Smith said Thursday that Routh “told us he’d taken a couple of souls and he had more souls to take.”
In presenting the video Thursday, prosecutor Jane Starnes said: “I think we can agree he makes some kind of odd statements.”
Defense attorneys have noted that even Kyle, a famed former Navy SEAL, had described Routh as “straight-up nuts” in a text message he sent the same day he was gunned down.
Texas Ranger Michael Adcock testified Thursday that Kyle and Littlefield were armed at the time of the shootings but it did not appear the weapons they carried were ever removed from their holsters. A medical examiner testified that Kyle was shot six times, Littlefield seven. Both had several gunshot wounds that would have been fatal.
Routh’s mother had asked Kyle, whose wartime exploits were depicted in his 2012 memoir, to help her son overcome personal troubles that had at least twice led him to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Routh had been a small arms technician who served in Iraq and was deployed to earthquake-ravaged Haiti before leaving the Marines in 2010.
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