The Erath County Courthouse in Stephenville, Texas is preparing for the trial of Eddie Ray Routh, a former Marine sniper, who was accused of shooting and killing the decorated Navy Seal sniper, Chris Kyle, and his friend Chad Littlefield.
On February 2, 2013, Routh was working with Kyle and Littlefield, who ran a gun range as a service to help returning veterans with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), when he allegedly turned his gun on Kyle and Littlefield, shooting and killing both.
Kyle was recently the subject of the 2014 biopic “American Sniper,” based on Kyle’s autobiography of the same name, starring Bradley Cooper and directed by Clint Eastwood. The film is currently playing in theaters across the world, and is being nominated for several awards including the Academy Award for Best Picture.
The case sparked much debate, especially following the release of the biopic film depicting Kyle’s service in the Navy Seals.
The local newspaper, The Stephenville Empire-Tribune, received a threat, claiming that a bomb would be set off in the courthouse before jury selection. As a result, city officials have set aside an estimated $1 million for security for the trial according to a New York Times article.
Routh’s legal defense is claiming an insanity plea, saying that Routh suffers from PTSD. Other returned veterans are skeptical about an insanity plea. Former army convoy gunner, Andrew O’Brien, said to NBC News, “We don’t want the civilian world to be intimidated by us, to be scared or to wait for us to come in and shoot up people. I feel like that’s what this is going to do. It’s such a big case that it’s going to make us look like we’re crazy, and we’re not.”
However, some locals are more concerned with Routh being found guilty. Stephenville local, Chick Elms, said to New York Times “The death happening here, that makes it more personal. They’re not seeking the death penalty, which I think is hogwash.”
Others believe that regardless of the ruling, the trial will be fairly judged. Another Stephenville local, Glen Davis, told local NBC News Network, KXAN, “I think they’ll be fair and unbiased. I’ll think they’ll look at all the facts. This is conservative community. Great town, no doubt he will get a fair trial here.”
The trial is expected to officially begin on February 11, and is estimated to run for about two weeks.