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Suspect in 'American Sniper' killing in court

Feb. 18, 2014 - 06:29PM   |  
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STEPHENVILLE, TEXAS — The death-penalty case against a North Texas man accused of killing former Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and another man remains on track for a May trial.

Eddie Ray Routh sat quietly Tuesday during a pretrial hearing in which a judge heard more than 40 motions from his attorneys. Routh is charged with capital murder for the killings last year of Kyle — reputed to be the deadliest sniper in the U.S. military and the best-selling author of the memoir “American Sniper” — and his friend, Chad Littlefield.

If convicted, Routh faces the death penalty.

State District Judge Jason Cashon refused to set aside the indictment against Routh, whose attorneys argued in a motion that Texas’ death penalty statute is illegal under the U.S. and Texas constitutions.

Attorneys J. Warren St. John and Shay Isham also asked Cashon to tell the jury, if Routh is convicted, that one juror could hold out and prevent a death sentence.

Most of the motions concerned witness lists and details about the evidence both sides would turn over before jury selection May 5 in Stephenville, about 100 miles southwest of Dallas.

The 26-year-old Routh has been described by family as a troubled veteran who was hospitalized for mental illnesses, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

Kyle and Littlefield took Routh to a gun range in Glen Rose, similar to hunting and shooting retreats Kyle often hosted for veterans. Authorities say Routh gunned down the two men, stole a pickup truck, then confessed to family.

His attorneys have said Routh was released from a Dallas Veterans Affairs hospital against his family’s wishes just two days before the shootings.

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