“American Sniper” has drawn the eyes of millions to the trial of Eddie Ray Routh -- the man accused of killing Chris Kyle in 2013. Although the shooting of Kyle is not covered in the Oscar-nominated film, the strong emotions about the real-life soldier inspired by the movie have brought added attention to the case. Routh is set to stand trial on Feb. 11 in Stephenville, Texas, but the first step will be the controversial jury selection process, which begins Thursday.
On Feb. 2, 2013, Eddie Ray Routh, then 25, shot and killed Chris Kyle, 38, and his friend Chad Littlefield at a shooting range in Erath County, Texas. Kyle often took veterans, such as Routh, out on shooting ranges to work with them and help them cope with PTSD and related problems. Routh then fled the shooting range in Kyle’s pickup truck, which he stole, and subsequently drove to his sister and her husband in Midlothian, Texas. It was there that he confessed to what he had done and they called the police. Routh was arrested after he tried to flee in another vehicle.
Eddie Ray Routh’s attorneys plans to plead not guilty due to temporary insanity as a result of PTSD suffered by Routh who is also a veteran. However, Routh’s attorneys have expressed concern that it will not be possible for the defendant to get a fair trial with the added media attention following the release of the Bradley Cooper-lead film "American Sniper." They appealed unsuccessfully for a delay and change of venue for the trial.
Jury selection for the case will begin Thursday. The Stephenville court house usually sends out 175 jury duty notices per day, but for Routh’s trial, the court will select from 800 potential jurors. The judge will reportedly ask each potential juror if they have seen the movie, but a “yes” would not automatically disqualify a juror. A potential juror would only be ruled out for the trial if he or she is deemed incapable of remaining unbiased in the case. The process will produce 12 jurors and two alternates by the Feb. 11 trial.
The trial is expected to last two weeks. Prosecutors are seeking life without parole for Routh, but not the death penalty.
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