American Sniper: Defense Rests for Accused Killer

February 22, 2015 Updated: February 22, 2015

The real story of American sniper Chris Kyle continues, with 27-year-old Eddie Ray Routh on trial for killing former Navy Seal Kyle and Routh’s friend Chad Littlefield. Routh’s lawyers rested their case Friday. They say he was legally insane when he shot Kyle and Littlefield to death at the Rough Creek Lodge Shooting Range on Feb. 2 2013.

An expert for the prosecution denied it.  

Dr. Randall Price, a forensic psychologist, testified Friday that Routh had a paranoid disorder made worse by his use of alcohol and marijuana, calling his condition “cannabis-induced psychosis.”

“In my opinion, he did know what he was doing was wrong, and he did it anyway,” Price said.

A defense witness, Dr. Mitchell H. Dunn, testified Thursday that Routh had schizophrenia and showed signs of the illness for as long as two years before the  2013 shootings. Dunn said Routh described seeing neighbors and friends as turning into pig-human hybrids.

Price repeatedly accused Routh of “setting the stage” for an insanity defense. He suggested Routh may have gotten the idea from Seinfeld or the TV show Boss Hog. In a Seinfeld episode, one character, Kramer, believes he has discovered a “pig-man.”

“I don’t know for a fact that he saw that episode of Seinfeld, but I do know that he’s watched Boss Hog,” Price said. “For a long time, he’s talked a lot about pigs to a lot of people. So it’s suspicious.”

No matter what the outcome of Routh’s trial, American Sniper has raised awareness of the mental cost of war.  The film, like historically based  fellow Best Picture nominees Selma and The Imitation Game, was criticized for glossing over or distorting historic facts.  

Kyle volunteered to work with veterans who suffered mentally and emotionally.  He shared their suffering.  As a CBS synopsis of the American Sniper read, “As he rotates through four tours of duty, however, Kyle must deal with the high levels of stress and the toll on his personal life that are an unavoidable part of his harrowing work.”

He and Littlefield took Routh to the shooting range where they died in order to help him.

Routh was a former Marine who had served in Iraq. His mental problems and a drinking problem appear to have preceded his deployment, but he had also been diagnosed with PTSD, according to his brother-in-law Gaines Blevins, in a 911 call on the day of Kyle and Littlefield’s deaths.

Variety reported, “Robert McDonald, U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs, told the filmmakers, “You guys and your movie have advanced the conversation about veterans more in the past two weeks than we’ve done in the last 10 years. That’s the great thing about art—it helps us have this conversation.” 

The trial will start again Monday in Erath County in Texas, unless winter weather delays it.

 The Associated Press contributed to this report.