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Crime & Courts

Attorney says he will seek psychiatric exam for Iraq War veteran charged in gun range killings

  • decda4eb5c9fab04280f6a7067005c72.jpg

    FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Erath County Sheriff’s Office shows Eddie Ray Routh, who was charged with killing former Navy SEAL and "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield at a shooting range southwest of Fort Worth, Texas, on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013. Eddie Ray Routh had been taken to a mental hospital twice in recent months and told authorities he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, according to police records, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Erath County Sheriff's Office, File) (The Associated Press)

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    FILE - In this April 6, 2012 file photo, Chris Kyle, a former Navy SEAL and author of the book “American Sniper,” poses in Midlothian, Texas. Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield were fatally shot at a shooting range southwest of Fort Worth, Texas, on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013. Former Marine Eddie Ray Routh, who came with them to the range, has been arrested for the murders. (AP Photo/The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Paul Moseley, File) (The Associated Press)

An attorney for the Iraq War veteran accused of killing a former Navy SEAL sniper and his friend at a Texas shooting range said Wednesday that he will ask for a court-appointed psychiatrist to examine his client.

R. Shay Isham, who was appointed by the court to represent Eddie Ray Routh, said the psychatrist's exam is necessary to determine whether Routh is competent to stand trial for gunning down Chris Kyle, author of the best-selling book "American Sniper," and friend Chad Littlefield.

Routh's other court-appointed attorney, J. Warren St. John, said Routh was released from the Dallas Veterans Administration hospital against his family's wishes just two days before the shootings.

"There are just so many mental health issues associated with this case," St. John said Wednesday.

Routh, 25, is jailed on $3 million bond. He's charged with a capital murder count and two murder counts stemming from the killings at a rural shooting range Saturday about 50 miles southwest of Fort Worth.

Members of Routh's family have told authorities that he was a troubled vet who had been hospitalized for mental problems and had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, according to records and 911 recordings.

Routh joined the Marines in 2006 and rose to the rank of corporal in 2010. He served in Iraq from 2007-08. He is now in the individual ready reserve.

Isham said he had a 15-minute conversation with his client Monday but learned little from it.

"It was pretty one-sided," he said. "It was more about process, logistics."

Erath County Sheriff Tommy Bryant said Routh is on medication but refused to take it Wednesday. He said he doesn't know what the medication is.

"His mood apparently changes quite a bit," Bryant said.

Routh's sister told authorities that her brother had come to her suburban Dallas home Saturday night and admitted killing Kyle and Littlefield, saying he was "going to get their souls before they took his," according to a search warrant affidavit prepared by the Texas Rangers.

Lancaster police records show that Routh was placed in protective custody and transported to a psychiatric hospital in September after officers were contacted by his mother. According to the incident report, the officers were told that Routh had threatened to kill himself and his family.

Kyle and Littlefield apparently had been helping Routh work through PTSD, according to the director of the nonprofit that Kyle set up to give in-home fitness equipment to physically and emotionally wounded veterans.

Kyle, 38, left the Navy in 2009 after four tours of duty in Iraq, where he earned a reputation as one of the military's most lethal snipers. Littlefield, 35, was Kyle's neighbor and also volunteered his time to work with veterans.

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