‘American Sniper’ Killer Was not Insane, Prosecution Experts Insist

     STEPHENVILLE, Texas (CN) – Eddie Ray Routh was not insane when he killed “American Sniper” Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield; he was suffering from cannabis-induced psychosis, a prosecution expert testified in rebuttal.
     Prosecutors called rebuttal witnesses Friday, who disputed defense expert testimony that described Routh, 27, as a mentally ill veteran who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and paranoid schizophrenia.
     He was a heavy marijuana smoker who got high and drank whiskey on the morning of the murders before Kyle picked him up for their fateful one-hour drive to a rural upscale shooting range, prosecutors’ experts said.
     “He did know what he was doing was wrong and he did it anyway,” said Dr. Randall Price, a forensic psychologist who evaluated Routh in the Erath County Detention Center for more than 10 hours. “Even though he was experiencing symptoms of mental disease, that disorder was the result of drugs and alcohol.”
     Routh is on trial for gunning down Kyle, 38, the most lethal sniper in U.S. history, and his friend, Chad Littlefield, 35, at a north Texas gun range. Routh has confessed to the killings but pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
     Price suggested that Routh’s bizarre “pig men” ideas were ripped off from a Seinfeld episode. Defense experts said Thursday that Routh thought Kyle and Littlefield were pig assassins, that pigs were taking over the Earth, and that his girlfriend was a pig hybrid.
     That was nothing more than made-up attempts at faking symptoms of a disorder, something Routh consistently did to get out of trouble, Price said.
     “We’ve all made some statements that don’t make sense; they aren’t all psychotic are they?” Assistant Attorney General Jane Starnes asked Price.
     “No,” Price said.
     He testified that Routh suffers from a paranoid disorder, which is not the same that as a mental disorder, that is exacerbated by his drug and alcohol use.
     Price and Dr. Michael Arambula said Routh’s actions were a result of a cannabis-induced psychosis. They say that though Routh disputes it, he smoked marijuana at 12:30 the day of the murders. He also drank coffee with whiskey.
     Routh’s uncle, James Watson, testified earlier in the trial that he smoked two pipes of marijuana with his nephew the morning of Feb. 2, 2013.
     “He was not insane because he was intoxicated at the time of the offense and anytime intoxication is present, the game is over,” said Arambula, a San Antonio doctor and president of the Texas Medical Board.
     He pointed to Routh’s actions after the crime, including attempting to flee to Oklahoma, ending the high-speed chase with his hands up, and eating two bean burritos from Taco Bell shortly after the slayings.
     “It was going to be his last meal because he knew he would be arrested,” Arambula said. “Those actions all infer a knowledge that he knew what he was doing was wrong.”
     Both doctors disputed the idea that Routh suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder: the former Marine never saw combat.
     “He was exaggerating some symptoms of PTSD,” Price said. The traumatic experiences weren’t there, so in my opinion he did not have post-traumatic stress disorder.”
     “You have to have the trauma for there to be a post-trauma?” Starnes asked.
     “That’s correct,” Price said. “There was no indication that he had any combat experience.”
     Price told the jury of 10 women and two men that Routh grew agitated on the way to the gun range and considered killing Kyle and Littlefield in the car but reconsidered because he didn’t want to be hurt in a car accident.
     Instead, Routh shot the two friends a total of 13 times, with two pistols, as they had their backs toward him.
     “Chris Kyle had just emptied the gun he was shooting and had his back toward him,” Price said. “He told Dr. Dunn that it was the opportune time to kill Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield.
     “To me it’s very clear that he knew it was wrong, he knew it was against the law.”
     Price said Routh told him that after shooting the two men he thought, “‘Jesus Christ, what have I done?’ and he became immediately remorseful, indicating he knew it was wrong.”
     Defense attorney Tim Moore tried to poke holes in the experts’ theories, reminding jurors that the Dallas VA Medical Center diagnosed Routh with psychosis not otherwise specified and PTSD, and prescribed medications for both conditions.
     Price acknowledged that Routh’s case is difficult to diagnose, but added that he said different things to different doctors. He also conceded that he has diagnosed a patient with a cannabis-induced psychosis only once before in his past 30 years of practicing.
     “I do think that the psychotic symptoms were still induced by the cannabis use,” he said.
     Testimony was to resume Monday at 10 a.m. Closing arguments could come as early as Tuesday.

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