Trial in Navy SEAL killing on track for May

Posted Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

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The death-penalty case against a Lancaster man accused of killing former Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and a friend at a Glen Rose shooting range last year remains on track for a May trial.

Eddie Ray Routh, 26, sat quietly Tuesday during a pretrial hearing in which a judge heard more than 40 motions from Routh’s attorneys.

Routh was charged with capital murder in the killings of Kyle — reputed to be the deadliest sniper in the U.S. military and the bestselling author of the memoir American Sniper — and a friend, Chad Littlefield. Both men lived in Midlothian.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. State District Judge Jason Cashon refused to set aside the indictment against Routh as requested by his attorneys, who argued in a motion that Texas’ death-penalty statute is illegal under the U.S. and Texas constitutions.

Attorneys Warren St. John of Fort Worth and Shay Isham of Stephenville also asked Cashon to tell jurors that they must be unanimous on a death sentence. Otherwise, by law, a defendant will automatically be sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.

Most of the motions concerned witness lists and details about the evidence that both sides will turn over.

Jury selection is set to begin May 5 in Stephenville, about 60 miles southwest of Fort Worth.

Routh has been described by relatives as a troubled evteran 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 and then confessed to relatives. He was arrested after a pursuit on Feb. 2, 2013.

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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