Chris Kyle’s Killer Didn’t Get Off On An Insanity Plea — But Should He?
The man who killed Chris Kyle, the subject of the movie American Sniper, was recently convicted of murder. He received 27 years in prison for shooting Kyle four times in the back and once in the face. Many who consider Chris Kyle an American hero were outraged by the crime.
But much of the evidence suggested that Routh was suffering from severe PTSD when he murdered Chris Kyle, and much of his behavior since has indicated that he suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. What made juries decide to convict Routh of the murder of Chris Kyle instead of institutionalizing him in a mental health facility?
According to the Washington Post, as many as 14 percent of men and 31 percent of women in prisons have disorders, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression. Eddie Ray Routh will be no exception. Chris Kyle famously sent a text message on the day of his murder calling Routh “straight-up nuts.”
But this wasn’t convincing to the jury who convicted the killer of the most successful sniper in American history, Chris Kyle. According to a study, America has a bad habit of placing the mentally ill in prisons instead of specialized care facilities, due to the lack of resources to institutionalize everyone in the country who needs help.
“Jails have been described as the ‘treatment of last resort’ for those who are mentally ill and as ‘de facto mental hospitals, because they fill the vacuum created by the shuttering of state psychiatric hospitals and other efforts to deinstitutionalize people with serious mental illness during the 1970?s, which occurred without creating adequate resources to care for those displaced in the community.”
But according to ABC News, convicting Chris Kyle’s killer was not a simple issue of stashing an inconvenient mentally ill person in a prison. The central challenge of the trail proving whether or not Routh was in a clear state of mind when he took the life of Chris Kyle.
“In the beginning, I know a lot of us came into the jury questioning that, but evidence shows that there was a real definite pattern there,” said juror Kristina Yager.
“He would get intoxicated, get in trouble, and then the police would show up and he would say ‘I’m a veteran, I have PTSD, I’m insane,’ you know, and every time something bad happened he pulled that card.”
Another juror named Stacie Matthews said of Chris Kyle’s killer, “In the very end, this young man knew right from wrong so with a good conscious [sic], we had to say that he was guilty of this crime.”
In addition to jury testimonies, a report from CS Monitor claims that juries frequently reject the insanity plea, because the plea has a bad reputation of letting criminals get away with murder.
“It sounds like [Routh] had a very high level of mental illness and that he was mis-perceiving reality in a very substantive way,” said Jane Campbell Moriarty, editor of Mental Illness in Criminal Trials.
“However, we have a long history as humans of disliking the insanity defense.”
What do you think? Was Chris Kyle killed by an insane man or murdered in cold blood?
The irony of the situation is that Chris Kyle has been accused of psychopathy himself. In Kyle’s memoir, he admits he loves the act of killing. Read more here.