War at home: Routh found guilty in ‘American Sniper’ murder

Former Marine Corporal Eddie Ray Routh appears in court on opening day of his capital murder trial Feb. 11. (Tom Fox | Tribune News Service)
Former Marine Corporal Eddie Ray Routh appears in court on opening day of his capital murder trial Feb. 11. (Tom Fox | Tribune News Service)
TNS
Former Marine Corporal Eddie Ray Routh appears in court on opening day of his capital murder trial Feb. 11. (Tom Fox | Tribune News Service)
Former Marine Corporal Eddie Ray Routh appears in court on opening day of his capital murder trial Feb. 11. (Tom Fox | Tribune News Service)

It all started from a generous act of compassion, but turned south for a motive unknown.  Eddie Ray Routh, former U.S. Marine and diagnosed schizophrenic, will spend the rest of his life in prison for a murder he committed two years ago. Routh shot “American Sniper” author Chris Kyle and friend Chad Littlefield in a day that was planned to be spent bonding.

Dan Lamothe from the Washington Post said, “Routh’s mother had asked the Navy SEAL veteran to help her son with post-traumatic stress.” The two friends, Kyle and Littlefield, picked Routh up for a day of shooting to offer advice on ways to cope with his current situation.  Just 90 minutes into their time together at the Rough Creek Lodge and Resort, the two former military men were found dead on the scene.

Defendants of Routh’s case fought that he was not mentally sane at the time of the shootings. However, Jacob Rascon and Phil Helsel from NBC News said, “experts for the prosecution have testified that Routh knew what he was doing and was wrong when he killed the two men.”

Kyle, a father of two, was shot six times, and Littlefield, a father of one, was shot seven times.  The crime seemed so cold hearted and planned. What was Routh’s motive for murdering those trying to help him?

Routh told the Washington Post,  “I shot them because they wouldn’t talk to me.  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.”

The former Marine suffered from PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, along with other various mental disorders. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 7 to 8 percent of the U.S. population will suffer from PTSD at some point during their lives.

Routh thought he was in danger with Kyle and Littlefield, and not feeling safe could have caused him to react in a way that was not sane.  However, his state of mind was not enough to seize his decision to murder the two innocent men.

This case should bring to our attention the need to help those with PTSD, a topic that is not discussed enough in our society, yet is causing pain and agony for so many friends and families in each of our communities.  Being more open about the topic and becoming educated on the symptoms will improve the chances of a tragedy such as this from happening again.

According to PTSD alliance, more than 13 million Americans have PTSD at any given time. Whether it is due to the trauma of war or any other trauma, it is more common than we let         ourselves know.

Routh had motives that may never truly be known to the public, but still gives us all a valuable lesson.  We should not only pay more attention to those symptoms of PTSD in others, but also to make it a more open and educated topic in society.

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