STEPHENVILLE, Tex. — Eddie Ray Routh, who is on trial here for the murder of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and another man, was surrounded by police outside his family’s home two years ago when he asked a question: “Is this about hell walking on Earth right now?”
A detective said he didn’t know what he meant, so Routh persisted: “Because hell is walking on Earth with us right now as we speak.”
The comments were part of a 30-minute video recorded from a body camera on one of the officers who was dispatched to the Routh home in Lancaster, Tex., after local police learned that Eddie Ray Routh was a suspect in a murder. They didn’t specifically know at that moment that Routh had killed Kyle, 38, who inspired the recent movie “American Sniper,” and his friend Chad Littlefield, 35, at a luxury resort about 90 miles away earlier on Feb. 2, 2013.
Routh’s lawyers are attempting to persuade a jury to return a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.
The murder trial of Routh continued into its second day Thursday with prosecutors showing videos recorded from dashboard cameras in two different police cruisers and the body camera video material from a 30-minute standoff while Routh sat in a Ford truck outside his home. Routh stole Kyle’s F-350 truck after shooting Kyle and Littlefield multiple times and fleeing the Rough Creek Lodge and Resort, 90 miles southwest of Dallas.
Routh then attempted to flee from his home and led police on a chase through Lancaster before a police officer rammed the pickup truck on I-35. Dashboard camera videos played in court showed the truck continuing on at high speeds for several more minutes before Routh brought it to a stop on the highway. The vehicle was leaking fluids, which can be seen splattering on the windshield of one of the cruisers.
Members of Routh’s family cried as the body camera video was played. Detective Jesse Chevera, a next-door neighbor of the family, pleads with Routh to surrender peacefully.
“I know this looks really bad here now,” Chevera said to Routh. “We’re scared, too.”
Routh makes a series of rambling comments, saying that events are “happening so fast right, I don’t know if I’m going insane.” He asked for his parents who were out of town, in Abilene, Tex.
“Everybody just wants to barbecue my a– right now,” he told police. They disagreed, saying they would have done so already if they had wanted to.
Routh asks if the apocalypse is coming, and if voodoo “was upon us.”
Lancaster Police Lt. Michael Smith, who was in charge of the scene, told the court Thursday that if Routh had rolled down his window, he was considering having his officers incapacitate him with an electroshock device like a Taser.
“I didn’t know if he was intoxicated, or if he was high, or if he was just an odd guy,” Smith said.
One of Routh’s attorneys, R. Shay Isham, asked if the officer knew Routh was struggling mentally at the time.
“You don’t know if he is straight-up nuts,” said Isham.
“Correct,” Smith responded.