American Sniper widow tells of hug

Published: Thursday 12th February 2015 by The News Editor

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The widow of the Navy SEAL depicted in the Oscar-nominated film American Sniper has given emotional evidence about her final moments with her husband.

Taya Kyle was a prosecution witness in the murder trial of the ex-marine accused of fatally shooting Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield two years ago at a Texas gun range.

The trial in the small town of Stephenville has attracted national attention with the recent release of the blockbuster movie based on the memoir of the sniper who served four tours in Iraq.

Ms Kyle told jurors that as her husband left to go to the shooting range in February 2013, they gave each other a hug and kiss.

A lawyer for the accused, Eddie Ray Routh, said earlier in opening statements that Routh’s insanity was so evident that Mr Kyle and Mr Littlefield exchanged texts expressing alarm as the three rode together to the shooting range.

The court heard how Mr Kyle had texted “This dude is straight-up nuts”, shortly before he was shot dead.

But prosecutors say that even with a history of mental illness, Routh still knew right from wrong.

The case has drawn intense interest, largely because of Mr Kyle’s memoir about being a sniper who served four tours in Iraq.

District attorney Alan Nash described 27-year-old Routh as “a troubled young man” who on the morning of the killings numbed himself with marijuana and whiskey. But he said a history of mental illness should not absolve Routh of being accountable for the deaths.

“The evidence will show that mental illnesses, even the ones that this defendant may or may not have, don’t deprive people from being good citizens, to know right from wrong,” Mr Nash said.

Tim Moore, a lawyer for Routh, said Mr Kyle and Mr Littlefield’s text exchange showed how Routh was spiralling out of control. He told jurors Routh was suffering from severe mental strain that day and thought he needed to kill the two or they would turn on him.

Ms Kyle told the court Mr Littlefield and her husband were close, and enjoyed spending time with veterans as a way to help them ease back into civilian life. She detailed her husband’s own struggles after leaving the battlefield, saying he had post-traumatic stress disorder, was irritable and slowed by physical ailments.

She said her husband had been approached by Routh’s mother to help her son.

Routh was a small arms technician who served in Iraq and was deployed to earthquake-ravaged Haiti before leaving the marines in 2010. Authorities say that after the February 2013 shooting, Routh drove to his sister’s house in Mr Kyle’s truck, admitted to the killings and told his sister “people were sucking his soul”.

Routh faces life in prison without parole if convicted.

Published: Thursday 12th February 2015 by The News Editor

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