STEPHENVILLE (CBSDFW.COM) – The defense team rested its case on Thursday in the highly-publicized murder trial of Eddie Routh. But testimony is not over yet in the Stephenville courtroom. Rebuttal witnesses are being brought in on Friday, including a psychiatrist.
Routh has been accused of killing Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and his friend, Chad Littlefield, at a gun range in Erath County two years ago.
The court swore in Routh late Thursday. His attorney asked if he knew his rights, and Routh said that he did. They also asked Routh if he wanted to defend himself, and he said no. Routh then told the judge that he would not take the stand and testify.
This all came after a day of testimony that was filled with strange stories about Routh’s mental health. Defense lawyers have been trying to prove that Routh was insane when the two killings took place, and that he did not know right from wrong.
A psychiatrist testified that Routh thought that his co-workers were cannibals who wanted to eat him. That psychiatrist said that he believes that Routh is schizophrenic, qualifies as insane, and should not go to jail. Prosecutors brought in a rebuttal witness on Friday.
After the defense psychiatrist said that Routh believed that the Earth was being overrun by a hybird species of pigmen, a psychiatrist for the prosecution testified that these ideas were based on television shows. Randle Price took the stand and said that Routh lifted the idea of half-man/half-pig creatures from a “Seinfeld” episode, and the reality show “Boss Hog.”
Price testified that Routh does not have a mental disorder, but rather a personality disorder. Price also pointed Routh’s heavy alcohol and marijuana use that, he said, when combined with the personality disorder, could cause behavior that appears to be psychotic.
The prosecution does not dispute that Routh is troubled, but argue that he was not insane at the time of the killings. He did know right from wrong, they said, because he fled from the scene and told his sister that he was going to Oklahoma afterward. He also visited Taco Bell after the murders, to pick up a last meal before going to jail.
The defense psychiatrist said that Routh knew that other people believed that the killings were wrong, and expected to be put behind bars for the actions.
Routh’s mother asked Kyle to spend time with her son, to help with his posttraumatic stress disorder, but did not know that they group of men would be going to a gun range.
This case could go to the jury as early as Friday. If he is convicted, Routh will automatically receive a sentence of life in prison without parole. But if the jury finds Routh to be not guilty by reason of insanity, he could receive life in a mental health facility.
The trial has received national attention due to the release of the “American Sniper” movie, based on Kyle’s book of the same name. The film stars Bradley Cooper as Kyle, and was directed by Clint Eastwood. It has earned more than $300 million at the box office and is nominated for Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards.