STEPHENVILLE, Texas (CN) - Attorneys for the man who murdered "American Sniper" Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield said they will appeal the verdict because their client Eddie Ray Routh couldn't get a fair trial in a small town.
A state jury convicted Routh of capital murder on Tuesday. On Friday, Routh's attorneys said they will appeal.
Fort Worth attorney Warren St. John said the exposure to the blockbuster movie "American Sniper," based on Kyle's best-selling autobiography, and the former Navy SEAL's status in the community, prevented him from receiving a fair trial.
"We don't think that we got a fair trial in that small community, not that there's not some good folks there," St. John said. "We thought it should be in a bigger jurisdiction where the jury pool would be more diverse than it was in Stephenville."
When jury selection began in early February, Judge Jason Cashon said jurors in rural Erath County would not be disqualified if they had seen the Oscar-nominated movie. Nor did he prevent them from watching the Academy Awards play out in the middle of the trial. Kyle's widow, Taya Kyle, appeared at the ceremony, clutching her husband's dog tags, as she did throughout the 9-day trial.
Defense attorneys claimed Routh was insane at the time when he fired 13 shots at Kyle and Littlefield.
Prosecutors said that Routh was a deliberate killer who waited for the "opportune time" to shoot the two friends in cold blood. That time came when Kyle's magazine emptied during target practice at an upscale gun range and Routh seized the moment to shoot both men in the back.
Routh sat emotionless during the trial and while the verdict was read. His attorneys said at trial that Routh has been on anti-psychotic medications since the day after the Feb. 2, 2013 killings.
Erath County District Attorney Alan Nash issued a statement saying the trial was fair "for both the state and the defendant."
He slammed Routh's defense and their claims of PTSD.
"The biggest fallacy of this trial is that Eddie Routh committed this brutal crime because of PTSD," Nash said. "Many members of the armed services who have honorably served our country have every right to receive services for PTSD. But to claim that PTSD causes a person to commit murder is a disservice both to veterans and those who suffer from mental illness."
Cashon immediately sentenced Routh to life in prison without possibility of parole.
His attorneys will appeal to Texas' 11th Court of Appeals.Follow @@eidelagarza
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