"You must be Eddie"
February 25, 2015 5:42 PM   Subscribe

The day Chris Kyle died - an account of the fateful gun range encounter between the subject of the film "American Sniper" and fellow veteran Eddie Ray Routh. Routh has received a life sentence for killing Kyle and freind Chad Littlefield, with a jury finding his claims of PTSD to be "an excuse".
posted by Artw (35 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
Previously, previously.
posted by Artw at 5:50 PM on February 25, 2015


I can't believe they let a juror see the movie. I hope that quote leads to a retrial.
posted by michaelh at 5:54 PM on February 25, 2015 [10 favorites]


Yep this conviction should be thrown out.
posted by Justinian at 5:58 PM on February 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


After the funeral that Chris Kyle got, I thought that it was extremely unlikely that Routh could get a fair trial in Texas. After the movie came out? And not excluding jurors who'd seen it? I'm just glad they didn't sentence him to death.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:12 PM on February 25, 2015


It'd be interesting in Eastwood did a Routh movie now, Flags of Our Fathers/Letters from Iwo Jima style. I probably wouldn't go see the resulting piece of shit, but still, it would be interesting if he made it.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:31 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]




He had trouble keeping a job and began behaving erratically, having panic attacks and saying crazy, delusional things. At one point he was convinced that an imaginary tapeworm was devouring everything he ate. He talked about killing himself; alarmed, his family members took away his guns.
-
At the trial, it was revealed that Kyle, behind the wheel, had texted Littlefield, who was sitting right beside him, "This dude is straight up nuts."

Littlefield texted back: "He's right behind me, watch my six," telling Kyle in military slang to watch his back.


And then they gave him deadly weapons and he shot them. Maybe I was harsh in the previous to call them dumbshits, but the gun culture that exonerates itself from any role in their deaths is sick and has something to answer for.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:00 PM on February 25, 2015 [43 favorites]


Strikes me as odd that PTSD diagnosed, he had this Dx for years, years of medications, MD visits, hospitalizations, and major break incidents indicative of even more severe Dx...then a jury decides "nope, this guy was rational and goes to prison with no treatment...."

Prison for life in either case, agreed. But no treatment seems kind of cruel and unusual in and of itself.

Also: Why wasn't this a capital murder (death penalty) case? Isn't TX a big death penalty state?
posted by CrowGoat at 7:02 PM on February 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


Cynically I suspect because it would have made it a bigger deal to reject PTSD as a cause.
posted by Artw at 7:06 PM on February 25, 2015


Also: Why wasn't this a capital murder (death penalty) case? Isn't TX a big death penalty state?

The prosecutor might have had a shred of human decency in knowing that Texans won't accept no namby pamby PTSD excuse.
posted by Talez at 7:12 PM on February 25, 2015


The prosecutor might have had a shred of human decency in knowing that Texans won't accept no namby pamby PTSD excuse.

Or the prosecutor went "White. Male. Veteran" and refused to offer capital charges. Because if they go killing white male veterans in Texas, who knows where that'll stop.
posted by eriko at 7:15 PM on February 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


this just makes me sad, b/c reading Kyle's book, there is a kind of mutual delusion that seems to come on, and kyle's delusions of grandour, and the military code, and the butch masculinity here, no one is responsible...and there is no way that he could have gotten a fair trial.
posted by PinkMoose at 7:53 PM on February 25, 2015


Or the prosecutor went "White. Male. Veteran" and refused to offer capital charges. Because if they go killing white male veterans in Texas, who knows where that'll stop.

I'm looking at the inmates on death row in Texas right now and a lot of them are white men. Are you saying not one of them is a veteran?
posted by The World Famous at 8:21 PM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


See? No need for stricter background checks on gun sales. People just use insanity as an excuse when they shoot people.
posted by Joey Michaels at 8:23 PM on February 25, 2015


Gun sales or letting people handle guns at your range. Who could have predicted this would happen?
posted by Joey Michaels at 8:24 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm looking at the inmates on death row in Texas right now and a lot of them are white men. Are you saying not one of them is a veteran?

Jesus christ Texas wants to kill a LOT of people.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:29 PM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm looking at the inmates on death row in Texas right now and a lot of them are white men. Are you saying not one of them is a veteran?

A Vietnam veteran with PTSD was the first US execution of 2015. Although that one was in Georgia.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:35 PM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


••
posted by clavdivs at 9:38 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sometimes I feel Mississippi is the front runner for most embarrassing state in the union but, Texas is REALLY big... Lots going on there. They might have to be a close 2nd. If it wasn't for Austin, Houston, etc, they might be up top.
posted by ReeMonster at 10:03 PM on February 25, 2015


Funny how many people seem to think Kyle and Littlefield were dumb, deluded and/or inviting trouble by merely going out and doing their thing.

Is that how you think of others that are victims of crime? That they should know better? That they're, shall we say, asking for it?

Hypocrites.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:18 PM on February 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


His thoughts were red thoughts: "Jesus christ Texas wants to kill a LOT of people."

Only 402 cases away from case number 1 million.
posted by pwnguin at 10:25 PM on February 25, 2015


Funny how many people seem to think Kyle and Littlefield were dumb, deluded and/or inviting trouble by merely going out and doing their thing.

Is that how you think of others that are victims of crime? That they should know better? That they're, shall we say, asking for it?


No, we shan't say. Nor shall we in any way remove or ameliorate the responsibility of a murderer.

What we will do however is to continue to discuss the fact that the victims' last acts on earth included a) commenting on how mentally unstable a person was and b) handing that person high caliber weapons.

If you focus on the narrow sliver of this tragedy that is the court case then I can see why that might irk you. Eddie Ray Routh killed two people and this trial is about making sure that treatment/retribution is handed out accordingly. What the victims were up to isn't relevant.

But there is a lot more than a trial here. Two humans are dead and the person who did it is not in a terribly good way either. Families are destroyed. It's nice that the legal system will provide some "closure" but the far more interesting question is how do we stop this situation from happening again? How do we as a society find the Eddie Ray Routh's of this world before things get out of hand? How do we as individuals recognize Trouble when we see it?

And that brings us back to the question of whether Kyle and Littlefield were dumb, deluded, or inviting trouble by continuing to the range after deciding that Routh was "straight up nuts". I don't know myself. I do know that I would be Littlefield in the situation, and I would be relying on Kyle to make the judgment call about a fellow veteran. And now I'm wondering if we do enough to help returning soldiers learn when to be scared again.

In any case while the actions of the victim have no place in a particular trial, they can be of great importance to anyone who wants to skip being the victim at the next one.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:23 AM on February 26, 2015 [10 favorites]


This runs a bit contrary to this thread but I personally am very very glad to see that PTSD is not being treated as having much to do with sanity either way.

Yes, psychosis is on the long list of potential symptoms of PTSD. Psychosis is also on the long list of potential symptoms of many things in this world, and PTSD already has enough of a bad rap without people worrying that it means you may start killing people for no reason.

And I have to admit that if Routh really was out there consistently misbehaving and then hiding behind a PTSD diagnosis then I have little sympathy for it falling down in court. It's a diagnoses, not a license.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:33 AM on February 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


i haven't seen the movie and have no desire to.

however, i did rememember when kyle's murder made the blue.

i think that everyone involved in this is a victim and that there is no easy way to resolve it.

obvs giving people with PTDS guns is a bad idea and as much as i disagree with pretty much everything kyle stands for, i get that he was trying to do something good. but really it was just his own damage letting him think it was good.

the post about his death talked about how he was a jackass before the military, having to be tough etc and starting fights.

everything about this is just tragic and could have been prevented by many things. goddamn i hate that we even have veterans but i hate even more the way we send people overseas to kill other people and then just expect them to come back and be normal.
posted by sio42 at 5:36 AM on February 26, 2015


I couldn't believe they explained his behavior as being caused by reefer madness.
posted by koucha at 6:26 AM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Funny how many people seem to think Kyle and Littlefield were dumb, deluded and/or inviting trouble by merely going out and doing their thing.

Is that how you think of others that are victims of crime? That they should know better? That they're, shall we say, asking for it?


Well, there are a few different things to pick apart here. Kyle and Littlefield weren't literally asking for Routh to shoot them, just as someone who climbs into a tiger cage isn't literally asking the tiger to maul them to death. But we understand that the tiger is not at fault, either, because it's acting on instinct, just as Routh apparently was doing when he shot Kyle and Littlefield. People with severe forms of PTSD are understood to not be in control of their reactions to triggering situations. (This is in contrast to most perpetrators of crime, say, rapists, who have a choice as to whether or not to rape someone; I just thought I'd bring that up because of your evoking the comparison with the "asking for it" phrase.)

There are, of course, well-established methods of treating PTSD, none of which involve giving the sufferer guns, and which Routh tried to avail himself of, but was turned down. If you want to assign blame, you can do so to a system that demands that young men and women who enlisted in the prime of their lives, often simply because it was the only job available to them, throw themselves in harm's way for often no good reason, and then neglects to care for them afterwards. It is not precisely the same as saying that Chris Kyle "asked for it" to note that he was a strongly-self-mythologizing person (as witness the outcome of Ventura vs. Kyle, or that asking someone to "watch your six" doesn't make you bulletproof.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:00 AM on February 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


Strikes me as odd that PTSD diagnosed, he had this Dx for years, years of medications, MD visits, hospitalizations, and major break incidents indicative of even more severe Dx...then a jury decides "nope, this guy was rational and goes to prison with no treatment...."

Doesn't surprise me in the least. Juries (at least in the US) are famous for expecting defendants to have lived-up to the All-American image of self-perfection and self-reliance. And, that includes never, ever, ever use psychological issues as a reason for your actions. Because you're supposed to man-up and just get over it. Using a "mental illness" as an excuse doesn't fly in their vision of U.S.A.

Americans can be some of the most vindictive people around, and jump at an opportunity to punish anyone not living-up to their collective ideals (no matter whether those doing the judging might also be currently medicated.)
posted by Thorzdad at 7:12 AM on February 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think it was a fair sentence.

1) PTSD doesn't take away one's ability to tell right from wrong.
2) The victims were shot in the back
3) The assailant fled from police after it happened
posted by Renoroc at 7:24 AM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


1) PTSD doesn't take away one's ability to tell right from wrong.
2) The victims were shot in the back
3) The assailant fled from police after it happened


Fleeing doesn't mean you weren't having a psychotic break. It could mean he was scared and fearful for his life.

Say you're having a delusion that these two men had kidnapped you and wished to do you harm. That you need to get the drop on them before they can kill you. Then it would make sense to shoot them in the back, at least in your delusional mind.

PTSD alone doesn't take away the ability to tell right from wrong, but it can skew what you think about any particular situation. That loud noise in the kitchen of a restaurant? Mortar fire. A sudden move by a stranger? Sinister action that may hurt you. I can only imagine what the sound of live gunfire could do to someone.

And really, there was zero actual motive to this thing. It's a damn shame how we treat (or don't) veterans and it's a damn shame how we don't treat inmates with clear mental issues. If prisons had the ability to handle psychiatric issues better, I'd have less problem with the verdict, but they don't, so I do.
posted by inturnaround at 8:10 AM on February 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


the gun culture that exonerates itself from any role in their deaths is sick and has something to answer for.

Oh, for fuck's sake. Look, gun culture is pretty clear that you don't give people that you are worried about protecting yourself from a gun, and you don't go shooting with people you don't trust. Chris Kyle thought he was better and bigger and badder and safer from all that and didn't want to back down from his own image of himself, and he died for it. Chris Kyle didn't deserve to die, but he was definitely a fucking idiot. Don't blame "gun culture" that he was not involved with for that.
posted by corb at 9:47 AM on February 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


I kind of see "gun safety rules" and "gun culture" as often distinct in the same way our "drinking culture" is often distinct from safe, responsible ways to consume alcohol. But anyway, you are probably correct I phrased that poorly. Whatever it was that made them think this would be a good idea deserves more blame than the man who pulled the trigger based on what I've read about how it happened.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:52 AM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh, I see where your line is and that makes sense. The problem is that inside gun circles, "gun culture" is talking about this long tradition of hunting and teaching your kids gun safety at early ages and following Colonel Cooper's rules and being trustworthy and reputable, not the douchebags that buy a lot of 511 shit and talk about their gun like it's their girlfriend and think bullets bounce off them, which I think is maybe what you were referring to.
posted by corb at 9:59 AM on February 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


No true sportsman.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 10:05 AM on February 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


"Whatever it was that made them think this would be a good idea deserves more blame than the man who pulled the trigger based on what I've read about how it happened."

I could be wrong but was it not the killers mother who suggested Kyle as someone who could help. Did the killer know of Kyles' reputation?

What if the killer knew this sudden texting took place. Someone with PTSD might construe that in a myriad of ways.
But logic suggests an afternoon at the gun range with a new person having problems might not be super duper thing to do. Very sad situation.
posted by clavdivs at 12:42 PM on February 26, 2015


The Shadow of ‘American Sniper’
posted by Artw at 2:19 PM on February 27, 2015


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