A jury was seated yesterday in the trial of the man charged with murdering the former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. The judge estimated “no more than two dozen” were dismissed from the case due to publicity surrounding the story.
Ten women and two men will serve as jurors for Eddie Ray Routh’s trial, which starts Wednesday with opening statements. Routh, a former Marine, is charged with capital murder in the deaths of 38-year-old Chris Kyle and Kyle’s friend, 35-year-old Chad Littlefield. Kyle and Littlefield were trying to help Routh when prosecutors say he shot them at a Texas gun range in 2013.
The movie, American Sniper, based on Kyle’s memoir, has grossed over $300M. Jurors were not dismissed if they had seen the movie or read the book, but rather they were asked if they could set aside what they had already heard or seen.
“It’s hard not to have knowledge of this case,” Erath County District Attorney Alan Nash said. “It’s pervasive.”
Family members have said Routh, 27, struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder after leaving the Marines in 2010. The small arms technician served in Iraq and was deployed to earthquake-ravaged Haiti. Kyle took Routh to the shooting range after Routh’s mother asked if he could help her son.
Routh’s attorney plan to seek an insanity defense. Prosecutors will not pursue the death penalty. Routh faces life in prison without parole if convicted.
From what I’ve read the PTSD is a condition that’s merely self-stated by Routh and not an official diagnosis, so it’s possible the prosecutors can take that out of the equation. It’s also been pointed out that Routh never actually saw combat, so it would make sense that the level of PTSD, if any, would be mild. As Allen West said – there’s a big difference in being nuts and suffering from PTSD.
It’s interesting that the jury is made up of 10 women and only 2 men. Perhaps most of the men were dismissed because of the their military background, which could influence their thinking.
It shouldn’t matter that Chris Kyle was an excellent sniper or a patriot extraordinaire, because murder is murder, no matter the prominence of the person, but will the jury really be able to set that aside?