The year after he published his autobiography American Sniper and the year before the film adaptation hit theaters, United States Navy SEAL veteran Christopher Kyle was gunned down along with his friend Chad Littlefield. So what happened to Chris Kyle's killer? Justice caught up with Eddie Ray Routh just more than two years later…
Routh was arraigned on Feb. 2, 2013, the same day he shot and killed Kyle and Littlefield at a shooting range in Erath County, TX. On Feb. 24, 2015, Routh was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole. And in April 2017, a court of appeals upheld the conviction — which is the latest update we've heard about the case.
Kyle and Littlefield were reportedly helping Routh, a former Marine, with his post-traumatic stress disorder. Routh had also been diagnosed with schizophrenia and psychosis. After being charged with double murder, Routh pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, but jurors didn't buy that defense.
"I shot them because they wouldn't talk to me," a sheriff's deputy recalled Routh saying four months after his arrest, per The Washington Post. "I was just riding in the back seat of the truck, and nobody would talk to me. They were just taking me to the range, so I shot them. I feel bad about it, but they wouldn't talk to me. I'm sure they've forgiven me."
After the verdict was announced, Littlefield's half-brother Jerry Richardson addressed Routh. "You took the lives of two heroes, men who tried to be a friend to you," he said. And in an interview with reporters that same night, Littlefield's mother, Judy Littlefield, expressed relief. "We just want to say that we've waited two years for God to get justice for us on behalf of our son, and as always God has proved to be faithful, and we're so thrilled that we have the verdict that we have tonight," she said.
Kyle's widow, Taya Kyle, was not present for the reading of the verdict. She did, however, represent her late husband at the 2015 Academy Awards just days prior, where American Sniper picked up one trophy. And a month prior, Texas Governor declared Feb. 2 to be Chris Kyle Day, saying, "We honor our military heroes."