One day after a defense expert testified that Eddie Ray Routh was schizophrenic and legally insane when he killed Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield, prosecutors offered the jury a vastly different view on Friday.
They called two mental health experts — a psychologist and a psychiatrist — who testified that Routh’s abnormal behavior that day was caused by chronic marijuana use.
“I do not think that Mr. Routh was suffering from schizophrenia at the time of the offense,” Dr. Randy Price, a longtime forensic psychologist, told the jury Friday during Routh’s capital murder trial. “I think he was experiencing psychotic symptoms — but I think it was because of the drugs, the marijuana.”
Price said that is called “voluntary intoxication” — not insanity.
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“If you commit a crime and say, ‘I am pleading not guilty by reason of insanity because I was intoxicated,’ that doesn’t count,” Price said. “In my opinion, he did know what he was doing was wrong and he did it anyway.”
Dr. Michael Arambula, a forensic psychiatrist who holds a pharmacy degree, largely agreed with Price. He testified that Routh was “intoxicated at the time of the offense” — not insane.
“Anytime intoxication is present, the game is over,” said Arambula, who is also president of the Texas Medical Board.
In the end, the jury will have the final say. The panel of 10 women and two men is expected to get the case at the beginning of next week unless inclement weather delays proceedings.
Routh is on trial in state district Judge Jason Cashon’s court in Stephenville. The 27-year-old Marine veteran is accused in the Feb. 2, 2013, shooting deaths of Littlefield, 35, and Kyle, 38, who was purported to be the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history. The men were gunned down at a sport shooting range near Glen Rose during what was supposed to be a therapeutic outing help Routh, a veteran who was having trouble coping with civilian life.
Kyle’s wife, Taya, and Littlefield’s parents, Don and Judy, have been present each day of the trial, which entered its eighth day on Friday.
A question of pigs
Routh has shown little emotion during testimony but is constantly writing while seated at the defense table. His mental state is at the centerpiece of the case.
Defense attorneys Warren St. John, Tim Moore and R. Shay Isham are arguing that Routh is not guilty by reason of insanity — a tough burden that requires them to prove that Routh was suffering from a severe mental disease or defect at the time of the slayings and did not know his conduct was wrong.
On Thursday, they called Mitchell H. Dunn, a psychiatrist who testified that Routh was suffering from schizophrenia — a severe mental disease — at the time of the slayings. Dunn testified that Routh was consumed by thoughts of pigs and pig-human hybrids. He said Routh became paranoid that Kyle and Littlefield were “hybrid pigs sent here to kill people,” and he felt like he had to kill them first or they would kill him.
On Friday, Erath County District Attorney Alan Nash and Assistant Attorney General Jane Starnes called Price and Arambula to rebut Dunn’s testimony. Both doctors evaluated Routh and testified that they do not believe that he was suffering from schizophrenia. Both stated that Routh never even mentioned pig hybrids to them.
“No pigs came up at all,” Price said.
Arambula testified later: “If I remember my notes, I don’t think the word ‘pig’ is written in there one time.”
Agitated on that day
Price testified that he diagnosed Routh with long-standing personality disorder, adjustment disorder, substance abuse psychotic disorder and cannabis and alcohol use disorder — none of which are severe mental diseases or defects.
Price said Routh told him he was agitated on the day of the killings — feelings that were exacerbated when Kyle and Littlefield picked him up. Routh said he was offended that Kyle didn’t shake his hand and felt snubbed because they weren’t talking to him.
“That is a big part of what he became agitated about,” Price testified. “He thought they weren’t treating him right.”
Price said Routh told him that he started fearing for his life and believed he needed to “get out of this situation” so he fatally shot Littlefield and Kyle.
Price said Routh told him: “When I shot them, I thought, ‘Jesus Christ what have I done?’ and then I became immediately remorseful.”
Dr. Arambula testified that Routh, a heavy marijuana user who he believes has a mood disorder, made similar statements to him about what set him off. Specifically, he said he was bothered by Littlefield, who didn’t talk to him, shake his hand or shoot on the range, Arambula said.
“From the get-go that man had bothered him for some reason … he just started shooting,” Arambula said.
And while Price and Arambula disagreed with Dunn about whether Routh was insane at the time of the killings, all of the experts did agree on one thing: Routh did not suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Routh served as an armorer and a prison guard while in the Marines, according to court testimony. He never saw combat in Iraq and he didn’t handle bodies during a humanitarian relief effort in Haiti.
“The traumatic experiences weren’t there,” Price told the jury.