Crime

Chad Littlefield and Chris Kyle: ‘Two heroes died that day’

Former Marine Cpl. Eddie Ray Routh appears in court on opening day of his capital murder trial at the Erath County Donald R. Jones Justice Center in Stephenville, Texas, Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015.
Former Marine Cpl. Eddie Ray Routh appears in court on opening day of his capital murder trial at the Erath County Donald R. Jones Justice Center in Stephenville, Texas, Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015. The Dallas Morning News

The story of the life and death of Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle is widely known. It’s been told in a best-selling book, a blockbuster movie and by countless local, national and international news organizations.

But there was a second man, Chad Littlefield, who was gunned down with Kyle on Feb. 2, 2013, at an outdoor shooting range southwest of Glen Rose.

He would have turned 38 Wednesday.

“It’s such an irony that we are starting the trial on his birthday, on what would have been a celebration,” said Littlefield’s mother, Judy, her voice filled with emotion. “But we are a strong family of faith and that is the thing that is going to get us through.”

Testimony is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday in the capital murder trial of Eddie Ray Routh, 25, a troubled Marine veteran who is accused of fatally shooting Kyle and Littlefield at a gun range at Rough Creek Lodge and Resort, about 77 miles southwest of Fort Worth. Kyle and Littlefield — friends from Midlothian committed to veteran causes — had taken Routh to the range for target practice when authorities said he turned a gun on them.

Judy Littlefield is expected to be among the first witnesses called by the state.

The case has attracted intense media attention — most of it centered around Kyle, a decorated sniper who wrote a book that was turned into an Oscar-nominated movie starring Bradley Cooper. In the two years since the slayings, little has been reported about Littlefield — a fact that isn’t lost on some North Texas’ residents.

“No one ever mentions Chad Littlefield. He died that day, too,” said Connie Durant Stone, 59, of Granbury, who has been closely following news coverage of the case. “I’m interested in hearing about him. I just feel like his story needs to be told.”

According to his obituary, Littlefield was a son, a brother and a father — “a regular guy just taking care of business.” He graduated from DeSoto High School in 1995, worked as a facilities and logistics manager for Eagle Labs in Desoto, and “was happiest spending time with his family and friends.”

“His family and friends would tell you he was a rock, always there when you needed him, dependable and responsible, ready to grab you in his arms to let you know he loved you and everything would be alright,” his obituary read.

In February 2013, Brian White, one of Littlefield’s friends, started a memorial page on Facebook in an effort to keep his memory at the forefront.

“… As a family friend for more than 30 years, I felt the need to let everyone know who Chad was and what kind of person he was to everyone who knew him,” White wrote in his first post to the page, which has more than 18,000 likes and includes messages from Littlefield’s parents and older brother. “Thank you for taking the time to let Chad into your lives even though he is no longer with us, but with us in spirit.”

In a story published Saturday in the Stephenville Empire-Tribune, Littlefield was portrayed as a doting son, a loving father of a young daughter, and a man of faith and compassion who, along with Kyle, was committed to helping veterans cope with their return to civilian life.

Reached by phone recently, Judy Littlefield said she would like to talk and share stories about her son, but the timing wasn’t right with the trial underway and a gag order in place.

“We don’t want to do anything to jeopardize the trial,” Judy Littlefield said.

So for now, she and her family will save most of their words for the witness stand.

“Chad wasn’t in the military and he didn’t serve overseas, but he served in his own backyard,” she said. “He had a passion for veterans, as we do as a family. Two heroes died that day.”

Twitter: @melodymlanier

The Eddie Ray Routh trial

▪ Opening statements are expected to begin Wednesday in Stephenville.

▪ Ten women and two men will serve as jurors. They will not be sequestered, despite the publicity surrounding the trial.

▪ Defense attorneys have said they will pursue an insanity defense, asserting that Routh struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder after leaving the Marines in 2010.

▪ Prosecutors won’t seek the death penalty. Routh faces life in prison without parole if convicted.

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