EASTLAND, Texas (CN) – The ex-Marine convicted of murdering “American Sniper” Chris Kyle and a friend in 2013 lost another legal challenge Thursday when a Texas appeals court rejected his request for a rehearing.
Texas 11th Court of Appeals upheld Eddie Ray Routh’s double murder conviction on March 31, rejecting his insanity defense and claims of trial errors. Routh’s attorney asked the court a week later to reconsider its decision that the 29-year-old convicted of killing the most lethal sniper in U.S. history does not deserve a new trial.
On Thursday, the appeals court denied the motion.
A jury convicted Routh on Feb. 25, 2015 of murdering Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield. The two friends had taken Routh on what was described at trial as a therapeutic outing to a North Texas gun range before the day turned deadly. Kyle and Littlefield were shot a total of 13 times, with two pistols, as they had their backs toward Routh, according to trial testimony.
Kyle is the subject of the 2014 hit movie “American Sniper,” based on his 2012 autobiography of the same name.
Routh was sentenced to life in prison without parole, but continued to claim on appeal that he was insane at the time of the murders. His attorney, J. Warren St. John, told the court’s three-judge panel at a June hearing that jurors “made the legally incorrect decision” when they found Routh guilty.
But the appeals court concluded in a 46-page ruling that “there is more than a scintilla of evidence to support the jury’s rejection of appellant’s insanity defense.”
It also rejected Routh’s two other arguments on appeal, involving statements he made to a Texas Ranger immediately after the murders that he wanted suppressed, and claims that a mistrial should have been declared during his 10-day trial.
Routh can file a petition for discretionary review to the Court of Criminal Appeals in Austin, which has discretion to accept the case for review or let the Eastland court ruling stand.
St. John told Routh after the appeals court ruling in March that he would no longer represent him after filing the motion for rehearing.
“As your court-appointed attorney, my representation ends with the filing of the Motion for Rehearing and I am not obligated to prepare the PDR [petition for discretionary review],” St. John said in a certified letter to Routh on the day his appeal was denied. “I am not in a position to continue the appellate process without being compensated, so if you would like to retain me to continue the appellate process, please have someone contact my office as soon as possible.”
St. John did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.
Routh is incarcerated at the Louis C. Powledge Unit, a medium-security prison in Palestine, about 100 miles southeast of Dallas.