‘American Sniper’ accused of fatally shooting Navy Seal trial jury selected

February 10, 2015 7:14 pm

Jury selection in the trial of a man accused of fatally shooting a former Navy Seal depicted in the Oscar-nominated film American Sniper has begun.
More
than a dozen people were dismissed from jury service yesterday in
Stephenville, , where former Marine Eddie Ray Routh is charged with
capital murder in the deaths of Chris Kyle, 38, and his friend Chad
Littlefield, 35.

Former Navy Seal Chris Kyle, author of the book American Sniper, was
killed along with friend Chad Littlefield in early 2013. Photo / AP

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.
The county’s top prosecutor told prospective jurors that
he knew many of them will have seen the movie, which depicts Kyle’s
stories of serving four tours in Iraq.

“It’s hard not to have knowledge of this case,” Erath County district attorney Alan Nash said. “It’s pervasive.”
Seeing
the movie or reading Kyle’s book would not disqualify jurors on its
own, according to both Mr Nash and State District Judge Jason Cashon,
who will oversee the trial.
Mr Nash asked potential jurors if they were unable to set aside what they had already heard about the case.
No one among about 130 potential jurors in court raised their hand.
Instead
of a typical Erath County jury pool of 175, about 800 jury summonses
were sent out, district clerk Wanda Pringle has said.
Several hundred people who were not eliminated due to exemptions or other factors took part in last week’s screening.
The
group was narrowed as potential jurors were dismissed for reasons
including some who said pretrial publicity had already led them to a
decision in the case.
About 260 potential jurors reported to the courthouse on Monday.

Iraq war veteran Eddie Ray Routh, accused of killing Chris Kyle and friend Chad Littlefield, with his mother Jodi. Photo / AP
Iraq war veteran Eddie Ray Routh, accused of killing Chris Kyle and friend Chad Littlefield, with his mother Jodi. Photo / AP
Those dismissed right away were by mutual agreement of
attorneys, for reasons including illness and answers they gave on a
questionnaire last week, Ms Pringle said.
About 100 others were told to go home but to check in later to find out if they would be needed on the trial’s second day.
Routh’s attorneys plan to pursue an insanity defense. Prosecutors will not seek the death penalty.
He faces life in prison without parole if convicted.
Family members have said Routh, 27, struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder after leaving the Marines in 2010.
The small arms technician served in Iraq and was deployed to earthquake-ravaged Haiti.
Kyle took Routh to the shooting range after Routh’s mother asked if he could help her son.
About
two hours after they arrived at Rough Creek Lodge and Resort on
February 2, 2013, an employee discovered the bodies of Kyle and
Littlefield at the remote range.
In the meantime, authorities say
Routh drove to his sister’s house in Kyle’s truck, telling her and her
husband that he’d killed Kyle and Littlefield.
His sister told police that Routh “was out of his mind, saying people were sucking his soul and that he could smell the pigs”.

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