STEPHENVILLE, Texas (AP) — A police officer told a Texas jury Thursday that a former Marine charged in the deaths of two men, including “American Sniper” author Chris Kyle, told him he had “taken a couple of souls” and had more to take.
A police video displayed for the jury showed police in Lancaster, near Dallas, trying to coax Eddie Ray Routh from a pickup in the hours after famed Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield were found dead at a shooting range in February 2013.
Officers in the video are seen trying to talk Routh into surrendering as he makes comments such as, “Anarchy has been killing the world.”
“He told us he’d taken a couple of souls and he had more souls to take,” Lancaster police Lt. Michael Smith testified Thursday.
Defense attorneys have said Routh, 27, was insane when Kyle and Littlefield took him to a shooting range to provide support and camaraderie. Routh believed the men planned to kill him, his attorneys say. Routh faces life in prison without parole if convicted.
The case has drawn intense interest, largely because of Kyle’s memoir, “American Sniper,” about serving four tours in Iraq. The Oscar-nominated film based on the book has grossed nearly $300 million.
Officers testified that hours after the bodies were discovered, Routh returned to his home in Lancaster, driving Kyle’s pickup. Officers spoke with him as he sat in the pickup but he refused to leave the vehicle, eventually speeding off with police in pursuit. He stopped minutes later after one police vehicle rammed the pickup.
At one point Routh, wanted his parents to come. “There’s no trust anymore,” the video showed Routh saying.
At different points, Routh made comments such as, “I didn’t sleep a wink last night at all,” ”I don’t know if I’m going insane,” and “Is this about hell walking on earth right now?”
Authorities say Routh had earlier driven his sister’s house, admitted to the killings and told his sister, “people were sucking his soul.”
While two officers tried to talk Routh out of the truck, two others “low crawled” to the back of the vehicle and placed spikes on the back tires, Lancaster police Officer Flavio Salazar said. The spike strips didn’t cause the tires to deflate, and Routh sped away, prompting a chase at speeds of about 100 mph.
Finally, police rammed the pickup, eventually disabling the vehicle. Police video showed Routh opening the driver’s-side door, emerging with his hands up and sinking to the ground.
Routh’s mother had asked Kyle, whose wartime exploits were depicted in his memoir, to help her son overcome personal troubles that twice led him to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Routh had been a small arms technician who served in Iraq and was deployed to earthquake-ravaged Haiti before leaving the Marines in 2010.
Prosecutors contend that a history of mental illness should not absolve Routh in the deaths.
Texas Ranger Michael Adcock testified earlier Thursday that Kyle and Littlefield were armed at the time of the shootings but it did not appear the weapons they carried were ever removed from their holsters. Their wounds included multiple gunshots to the back.