The night before he gunned down two men, Eddie Ray Routh proposed to his girlfriend.
“We were in the kitchen and I was getting his medication out of a cabinet and, when I turned around, he was on his knee and he asked me to marry him,” Jennifer Weed, Routh’s girlfriend at the time, testified Wednesday. “I said, ‘yes’ and he wrapped his arms around my stomach and he started crying. Then he ate some of Jodi’s (his mother’s) spiced crackers and we went to bed.”
“He just out of the blue asked you to marry him?” defense attorney Tim Moore asked.
“Yes,” Weed replied. “He had asked a few times before but it was when he was in the VA Hospital and I told him ‘no’ — not until he was allowed to have shoelaces.”
Weed’s testimony on Wednesday gave the jury of 10 women and 2 men the first look at Routh’s behavior on the night before he killed famed Navy SEAL Sniper Chris Kyle and his best friend, Chad Littlefield. Routh, 27, is on trial in state district Judge Jason Cashon’s court, charged with capital murder for fatally shooting the pair on Feb. 2, 2013, at a shooting range at Rough Creek Lodge, an upscale 11,000-acre resort near Glen Rose.
Littlefield and Kyle, the bestselling author of American Sniper, were committed to veteran causes and had taken Routh to the range in an effort to connect with the disturbed Marine veteran, who had been struggling with civilian life.
District Attorney Alan Nash and Assistant Attorney General Jane Starnes rested their case on Tuesday afternoon after calling dozens of witnesses who portrayed Routh as an unrelenting killer who knew his conduct was wrong when he shot Littlefield seven times with a 9mm weapon and Kyle six times with a .45-caliber handgun before fleeing in Kyle’s black Ford pickup.
Defense attorneys Moore, Warren St. John, and R. Shay Isham have launched an insanity defense and are working to prove that Routh was suffering from a severe mental disease or defect at the time of the slayings and did not know that his conduct was wrong. They have called a number of witnesses —including his mother, boss, brother-in-law and sister — who have testified about his mental state and said he was a changed man after he got out of the Marines.
A state of paranoia
According to testimony, Routh had been hospitalized several times for mental issues — including in September 2012 when he threatened to kill himself and his family and again in January 2013 after an incident with Weed and her roommate.
Weed testified that on Jan. 17, 2013, she drove to Routh’s house in Lancaster to pick him up and take him to her apartment.
“He came running out of the house and jumped into my car, screaming `Go, go, go!’” Weed recalled. “We got back to my apartment and everything was fine.”
The next night, Weed testified, Routh got inexplicably upset at bedtime and started calling her a “crack whore” and a “demon.”
“He started calling me names and accusing me of drug usage and trying to steal his soul,” she said. “He said he was going to die that night and wanted to say goodbye to his mom.”
Weed said she told him she would take him home in the morning and took him to buy cigarettes to try and calm him down. When they returned, he took a shot of Vodka — something she disapproved of because Routh had made a commitment that he wasn’t going to drink or smoke marijuana anymore.
When they awoke the next morning, Weed said Routh seemed to be in better spirits, but it didn’t last long. A short time later, he was visibly shaking, sweating profusely and didn’t want anyone to leave the apartment, including her or her roommate.
Weed said Routh grabbed a decorative Ninja sword by the door and said, “We are not going anywhere.”
“He insisted that people were out to get us and that we needed to stay in the apartment because the apartment was safe,” Weed testified, adding that he also grabbed a knife from the kitchen butcher block.
Eventually, Weed said, her roommate notified a police friend and, once again, Routh ended up hospitalized at a Dallas VA Hospital.
“He was upset, tearful, apologetic,” Weed said. “He didn’t seem to have a recollection of what had happened.”
Substance abuse issues
Weed said that Routh was released on Jan. 25, 2013 and, later that day, she found him smoking marijuana at a friend’s house.
“I was upset with him because he told me he was going to be clean,” Weed testified.
About a week later, on Feb. 1, 2013 — the night before the slayings — Weed got off work and drove to Routh’s house to spend the night. She said she immediately became upset when she found him in the backyard smoking marijuana again.
“It had become an issue with us —his smoking,” she said.
Later, she said, Routh came inside and started staring at a corner in the room. She said he was hearing and seeing things and got out a yellow legal pad and started writing her weird messages.
“He got up and said they were listening to us,” Weed said. “…When I spoke, he would cover my mouth because he didn’t want them to hear what I had to say… He definitely had paranoia about the government.”
Later, Weed testified, Routh proposed to her and they went to bed.
The next morning, Weed said she made Routh shower.
“At that time, Eddie was going weeks on end without showering,” Weed said. “The only way that he would shower is if I would get in there with him and wash his hair.”
After they showered, Weed said they began talking about what they were going to do that day — a discussion that ended when Routh put a dip of snuff in his mouth.
“I don’t like tobacco products,” Weed testified. “We got in a fight after that.”
Weed said when she left that day, she was very upset — and she had no idea Routh had plans to go to the shooting range that day with Kyle.
The next time she saw Routh, he was in the Erath County Jail charged with capital murder.
Visiting his sister’s house
Earlier Wednesday, Routh’s sister and brother-in-law testified that after the shootings, Routh came to their Lancaster home looking dazed and “not all there.”
“Is it just me or is the world freezing over?” Routh asked Gaines and Laura Blevins.
“I didn’t really know what to say,” Gaines Blevins testified. “The hair on the back of my neck stood up a little bit.”
Moments later, Routh told them that he had shot two people.
“He stated that he had taken some souls,” Gaines Blevins said. “… He said he took two souls before they could take his. … I had a sick feeling what he meant.”
Laura Blevins, told the jury that on Feb. 2, 2013, she had about “had her limit” with her brother, who regularly talked nonsense.
She said that when he walked into her house that day, she could tell that “he was not himself.”
“He was talking about pigs sucking his soul,” she said.
She said her brother told her he had committed a murder, that he had killed “Chris Kyle” and his friend.
She said at first she thought he was talking nonsense, but grew increasingly alarmed the more he spoke. She encouraged her brother to turn himself in, but Routh said he was going to Oklahoma.
As he was leaving, she noticed that he was driving a strange big truck with big tires — instead of his Volkswagen bug that was painted to resemble a lady bug.
“I felt like I was going to throw up,” Laura Blevins said. “I still couldn’t believe that this is what was happening or what had happened. I told him, ‘I love you but I hate your demons.’”
“For a moment, he was my baby brother. He looked at me and his eyes, I could tell he needed me. Then he switched back so fast to the person I didn’t know anymore.”