The night he was arrested for killing American Sniper hero Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield, Eddie Ray Routh called his victims “head hunters” and said of Kyle, “I knew if I didn’t take his soul, he was gonna take my soul.”
Routh’s words were captured in a chilling police video and played in court on Monday in Stephenville, Texas, where the ex-Marine is standing trial for the Feb. 2, 2013, murders of Kyle, the renowned Navy SEAL whose 2012 memoir is the basis for the Oscar-nominated film, and Littlefield.
Alternately defiant, apologetic and rambling, Routh – who can be seen in the video slumping low in his chair and flopping his head onto a small table – says at one point during his interrogation in the late-night hours after the killings, “It seems like every time I talk to a man named Chris, I end up talking to the wolf. The ones in the sky and the ones that lie.”
Discussing how he knew Kyle, Routh tells Texas Ranger Danny Briley, “I met Chris; he was the one protecting the schools for my mom” – a reference to the fact that his mother, Jodi Routh, worked at the school that Kyle’s children attended. She had asked Kyle to meet with her son in hopes of helping him with his issues, which allegedly included PTSD.
Discussing how he ended up with Kyle that day, Routh said they were going to take part in some “shooting sports” together at a nearby lodge. Asked what kind of shooting sports, Routh said, “I imagine they’re headhunters – trying to hunt everybody down that did them wrong before.
“I try to be as normal and reasonable as I can. I’m pretty damned reasonable. I’m pretty damned fair,” he added.
‘I Told Her I Had to Kill a Man Today’
At one point, Routh was asked what he told his sister Laura earlier that afternoon.
“I told her I had to kill a man today,” he replied. “It wasn’t a want-to, it was a need-to. I had to get out of that situation today.”
Later, Routh boasted about his superior gun skills in regard to Kyle: “His training was good but my training had been better my whole life.
“I knew if I didn’t take his soul, he was gonna take my soul next – or one of his gangsters was gonna take out one of my souls,” he said.
As the interview went on, Briley asked, “What happened from your perspective?”
After a pause, Routh said,”I just can’t keep eating my soul like this. I just can’t. I just wish the world wasn’t such a soulless place, you know?”
Along with some of his “bizarre” comments, as Briley put it in court, Routh expressed remorse for the murders.
“You know what you did was wrong today,” Briley said.
“Yep,” Routh answered. “I’m just sorry for what I’ve done, you know . . . I don’t know what I was thinking. I guess there needs to be more thinking in this world than hurting people.”
During cross-examination on Monday afternoon, defense attorney Tim Moore read aloud several statements that Routh had made during the interrogation. Moore occasionally followed up with, “That didn’t make any sense, did it?”
“No, it did not,” Briley replied. As for why the ranger didn’t follow up or ask what Routh was talking about during the ramblings, Briley said, “It was philosophical talk and he was still avoiding what we’re there to talk about. In my opinion.”