Eddie Ray Routh, the military veteran on trial for murdering former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.
As reported by the New York Times, a jury in Stephenville, Texas rejected Routh’s claims that he was "legally insane" at the time of the murder. Routh’s defense team also tried to argue that their client belonged in a mental institution instead of a prison. That claim also was rejected Routh will spend the rest of his life behind bars for murdering Chris Kyle and Kyle’s friend, Chad Littlefield, in 2013. Routh will not be eligible for parole.
The reason we are paying attention to the outcome of Edde Ray Routh’s trial is because days ago, Clint Eastwood’s film about Kyle’s military accomplishments, American Sniper, was contending for multiple Oscars, including Best Picture. From an industry standpoint, Eastwood’s film walked away with one Oscar under its belt (for Best Achievement in Sound Editing).
But there’s no question the film’s existence – and its popularity – influenced jurors sitting in on the trial. In an interview with ABC News, several jurors admitted to seeing Clint Eastwood’s movie, and even reading Kyle’s book, on which the Oscar-winning film is based. But juror Barrett Hutchinson told the news outlet:
You just put that to the side, and take in the facts and make your own judgment. I put [movie details] out of my mind, and looked at Chris as a person, looked at Chad as a person, looked at Eddie as a person
To date, American Sniper has been an enormous financial hit, earning $430 million worldwide to become the highest-grossing film of Clint Eastwood’s storied career. The fact that Eastwood is 84 is stunning, that his most recent film has also been his biggest. And while the movie isn’t a complete critical darling, earning a modest 73% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie has been adopted by numerous organizations who support the film’s messages about war, military service, and the complicated effects combat has on soldiers returning home from overseas battles.
Some will debate over whether or not Eddie Routh earned a fair trial because of the popularity of American Sniper, a film that reached its peak during the man’s trial. At the same time, the jury deliberated for two hours, and reached a unanimous decision. And now that sad chapter in the evolving story of American Sniper can be brought to a close.