Opening statements start Wednesday in the trial of the man accused of killing Chris Kyle, the so-called deadliest sniper in US history who was popularized in the film “American Sniper”.
The film, which is up for seven Oscars, has put millions of eyes, focused like spotlights, on the trial of Eddie Ray Routh, who has been charged with killing Mr Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield at a Texas shooting range in February 2013.
As expected in Wednesday's opening statements, the defence has claimed Mr Routh was in period of temporary insanity when he allegedly pulled the trigger two years ago. The prosecution is seeking life in prison.
So, as the trial is set to unfold in Stephenville, Texas, here is everything you need to know to follow the proceedings.
Who is Chris Kyle?
Mr Kyle was a US Navy SEAL from 1999 to 2009, who served four tours in the war in Iraq. He is known as the deadliest sniper in US history, reportedly with more than 200 kills to his name. He was honourably discharged from the military in 2009, supposedly so he could spend more time with his young family.
After he was out of the service, Mr Kyle was dedicated to helping former soldiers adjust to civilian life. He was at a shooting range on 2 February, 2013 when he was shot and killed.
Who is Eddie Ray Routh?
Mr Routh was in the US Marines from 2006 to 2010, serving in Iraq and Haiti, following the 2010 earthquake in that country. After he was out of the military, his struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder have been well documented.
Mr Kyle reportedly was helping Mr Routh with his PTSD when they went to the shooting range on that fateful February day. After he is alleged to have killed Mr Kyle and Mr Littlefield, Mr Routh allegedly stole Mr Kyle’s pickup truck and drove to his sister’s house. He told his sister than he killed the two men, after which she called police.
Mr Kyle took both Mr Routh and Mr Littlefield to a shooting range 70 miles south of Fort Worth, Texas in February 2013. No witnesses were on the scene, but an employee at the resort where the shooting range was found Mr Kyle dead with gunshot wounds to the back and head, and found Mr Littlefield with multiple gunshot wounds to the chest.
What to expect from the trial?
During the opening statements on Monday, the prosecution claimed that Mr Routh acted with forethought and malice when he allegedly shot Mr Kyle and Mr Littlefield and that the defendant should be punished accordingly, according to the Associated Press.
The defence claims that Mr Routh was in a period of temporary psychosis at the shooting range and didn’t know what he was doing was wrong. Mr Routh’s team also says his psychosis was brought on by his PTSD.
The trial is expected to last about two weeks and Mr Routh faces the possibility of life in prison, if he’s convicted. The jury comprises 10 women and two men.
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