The defense rested late Thursday in the Stephenville, Texas, trial of Eddie Ray Routh for the murders of "American Sniper" Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield two years ago. Prosecution rebuttal witnesses are scheduled Friday with closing arguments and jury deliberation to follow Monday.
Routh’s attorneys presented two days of defense evidence from Routh’s girlfriend, his family and an expert psychiatrist. They all said Routh suffered from severe mental illness at the time of the murders.
Dr. Mitchell H. Dunn, a forensic psychiatrist at the Terrell State Hospital, said he has been involved with criminal insanity issues for more than 20 years.
Dunn reviewed medical records, police reports, witness interviews, videos and crime scene photos in Routh’s case. He said he interviewed Routh, a former U.S. Marine, for more than six hours in April 2014 at the Erath County Jail, longer than the typical prisoner interview.
Routh’s hospitalizations for mental health issues began in 2011. Dunn said Routh suffered delusions in the weeks before his arrest, including the belief that cannibals were trying to cook and eat him at his job in a cabinet shop. He was released from the Dallas Veterans Affairs Hospital in January 2013, just days before the murders.
“They believed he had psychotic symptoms and mental illness and not one that was going to go away when he was not intoxicated,” Dunn said.
Dunn said Routh suffered from schizophrenia, delusional beliefs and disorganized thinking leading up to the time of the murders.
Kyle planned to take Routh on an outing at the Rough Creek Lodge shooting range to help with what the VA had diagnosed as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
That day, Routh thought the victims were “pig assassins, hybrid pigs sent here to kill people,” Dunn said. “He was acting in self-defense to kill them before they killed him.”
Dunn concluded that Routh suffered from “a severe mental disease or defect and did not know his conduct was wrong” the day of the murders.
Prosecutors blame drug and alcohol abuse and claim Routh did know right from wrong. State rebuttal witnesses will address those claims Friday.