A jury of 10 women and two men was seated Monday in the capital murder trial of the Midlothian man accused of fatally shooting a former Navy SEAL depicted in the Oscar-nominated film American Sniper.
State District Judge Jason Cashon estimated that no more than two dozen people were dismissed from service because of publicity about the case. Opening statements were scheduled to begin on Wednesday.
Marine veteran Eddie Ray Routh is charged with capital murder in the deaths of Chris Kyle, 38, and Chad Littlefield, 35, on Feb. 2, 2013
Attorneys began questioning potential jurors Monday morning.
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Erath County District Attorney Alan Nash asked potential jurors if they would be unable to set aside what they’d already heard about the case. No one among about 260 people in court raised their hand.
A key challenge facing authorities is ensuring a fair trial just as the movie based on Kyle’s memoir continues to make millions at the box office.
Seeing the movie or reading Kyle’s book was not disqualifying on its own, according to both Nash and Cashon.
Routh, 27, left the Marines in 2010. A small-arms technician, Routh served in Iraq and was later deployed to earthquake-ravaged Haiti. When he returned home to Midlothian, he was treated for post traumatic stress disorder.
Defense attorneys plan to pursue an insanity defense.
Prosecutors declined to seek the death penalty. If convicted, Routh will automatically be sentenced to life without parole.