Two forensic psychologists took the stand Friday in the capital murder trial of Eddie Ray Routh, accused of killing famed “American Sniper” author Chris Kyle and fellow veteran Chad Littlefield at a Texas shooting range two years ago.
One of the doctors who testified, Ronald Price, said he believes that Routh faked symptoms of schizophrenia and further said he feels the defendant isn’t insane, but that the drugs he’s ingested have caused his paranoia, according to legal analyst Jeffrey Gold, who is following a live feed of the trial and posting updates via Twitter. Routh has a personality disorder, but is not insane, Price reportedly said.
Price was brought on the case in March 2013 and has had access to Routh’s records, including all police files, autopsy and Texas Ranger reports, military records and those from his time in the Veterans Affairs and Green Oaks hospitals.
Because Routh was inconsistent during the almost 10 hours Price interviewed him over a few separate sessions, it was hard for the doctor to narrow down a diagnosis.
A psychiatrist for the defense paints a different picture, calling Routh a schizophrenic who doesn’t, in fact, have post-traumatic stress disorder, CNN reported. Dr. Mitchell Dunn was the last witness to testify before the defense rested Thursday and said that Routh committed the crime in the middle of a psychotic episode, one that “prevented him from knowing his conduct was wrong.”
Routh, a former Marine, ended an almost eight-month Kuwait and Iraq tour in early 2008 and deployed on a humanitarian aid mission to an earthquake-ravaged Haiti in 2010, according to service documents obtained by Warfighter News, a reporting organization made up of combat veterans and their family members.
Routh has said that combat in Iraq and the mission to Haiti – where he was required to help carry dead bodies on shore – contributed to his condition.
Warfighter questioned Routh’s claims to PTSD in a post it published Wednesday, saying that the veteran never saw combat in Iraq, as evidenced by the lack of a Combat Action Ribbon on his service record. The post also claims that Routh never left the ship during his almost four-month deployment to Haiti.
In an investigation published earlier this month, Warfighter interviewed Marines Routh knew and served with, including Cpl. Ryker Pawloski, who said he and Routh deployed to Camp Fallujah in August 2007 with the 8th Combat Logistics Battalion.
Pawloski said he and Routh were exposed to combat scenarios far from excruciating.
“We got mortared a couple times, that was the extent of our combat experience. Incoming was like hit and miss bullshit, for the most part there wasn’t a whole lot of hits. Routh was never near any incoming. Where he was located on the camp, he was rather safe and cozy,” Pawloski said.
As for Haiti, Warfighter interviewed Sgt. Andrew Stokes, who along with Routh and the rest of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit command element was sent to the devastated island for riot control and for aid distribution.
“Routh never left the ship. He was the armorer, why would he leave the ship?” Stokes said.
Routh’s claim of PTSD is an act of stolen valor, Warfighter claims.
Routh’s experience or PTSD claim isn’t unique. In an interview with Healthline, Kara Moreland detailed her struggles with the trauma she experienced in Iraq, which included being mortared by the enemy and enduring physical and mental abuse from higher ranking service members.
According to the VA, some 11-20 percent of veterans who served in operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom have PTSD in a given year, as Healthline pointed out.
Shortly after the deaths of Kyle and Littlefield, Routh received a back-payment of some $30,000 for the months he wasn’t paid benefits by the VA for his PTSD claim and has been receiving $2,800 each month since.
The payments could have totaled an amount exceeding $97,000 to date, though the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs would not confirm that with Guns.com by story publication.
“That record is marked sensitive and only certain people are allowed to access it,” a VA benefits administrator told Guns.com Friday.
The VA is carefully considering whether Routh’s benefits information can be made public.
“You have to understand, we’re not in this trial just because this guy is a veteran, we’re in this trial because he spent time in a VA hospital,” Dave Bayard, a VA regional director, told Guns.com.
Routh is currently being represented by three court-appointed attorneys paid for by county funds in the capital murder trial and if convicted of murder will continue to receive $280 per month, The Post reported.
The funds were deposited into a bank account managed by the defendant’s mother, Jodi Routh, who testified she was unaware part of it was used toward a down payment on a house purchased by Routh’s sister and her husband, The New York Post reported.
Upon hearing that, Erath County District Court Judge Jason Cashon told Mrs. Routh not to touch the money or let anyone else do so.
The trial is expected to close early next week, but will resume at 9 a.m. Monday, according to a news release sent to Guns.com from the Stephenville Police Department.