'American Sniper' murder suspect battling 'demons,' sister testifies

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 18, 2015 4:59 PM

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - The man accused of murdering former U.S. Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle went through debilitating bouts of paranoia and had a hair-trigger temper, his relatives and girlfriend told a court on Wednesday, according to media reports.

Eddie Ray Routh, 27, has been charged with killing Kyle, whose autobiography was turned into the acclaimed movie "American Sniper," and Kyle's friend Chad Littlefield at a gun range about 70 miles (110 km) southwest of Fort Worth in February 2013 and then stealing Kyle's pickup truck.

Lawyers for Routh said he was battling psychosis and are seeking to have him declared innocent by reason of insanity.

Routh's sister Laura Blevins, called by the defense, told the court in Stephenville that Routh went to her after the killings and confessed, saying he traded his soul for the stolen pickup truck, Dallas TV broadcaster WFAA reported from the court.

"The man who is my brother was not at my house," it said. Blevins told Routh: "I love you but I hate your demons."

Routh's girlfriend, Jennifer Weed, also called by the defense, told the court that Routh often heard voices and was quick to anger, telling her he had killed before, the station reported.

Prosecutors have said Routh knew what he was doing when he shot Kyle and Littlefield repeatedly and are seeking a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Routh, who was with the U.S. Marines in Iraq and Haiti, was driven to the range by Kyle, who had been helping fellow veterans heal the mental scars associated with fighting. Prosecutors said Routh did not take part in combat.

As the three men sped over Texas country roads, Kyle, who was credited with the most kills of any U.S. sniper, sent a text to Littlefield that read: "This dude is straight up nuts," defense attorney Tim Moore told jurors.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Peter Cooney)