In a brief but riveting testimony in the murder trial of Eddie Routh, a police officer says he overheard the suspect give a motive for the shooting deaths of American Sniper hero Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield.
“I heard Mr. Routh say, ‘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,” Gene Cole, a former deputy in Erath County, said. Cole was present when Routh was arrested.
As Eddie Routh’s uncle, James Watson, took the stand in Routh’s murder trial on Friday, assistant district attorney Jane Starnes asked, “You’re not exactly excited about being here, are you?”
“No, ma’am,” he replied.
The two men are close; in fact, on Feb. 2, 2013 – the day Routh allegedly shot and killed Kyle and Littlefield – Routh spent time with his uncle both before and after the murders. Watson’s testimony included a couple of revelations: Watson raced to Routh’s house the morning of the shootings after Routh’s girlfriend, Jennifer Weed, called for help due to an argument between the couple. Weed had left the house, but Routh said the two smoked marijuana, and Routh testified the two got high before Routh left for the gun range.
Watson testified in the Stephenville, Texas, courtroom that he was taking a nap that afternoon when Routh showed up at his house and let himself in. He was carrying a 9mm semiautomatic handgun that he wanted his uncle to see.
They then walked outside, where a large black Ford pickup truck was parked. Routh told him, “Check out my truck. I’m driving a dead man’s truck.”
Starnes asked how Watson reacted to that statement.
“I thought he was talking about himself,” Watson replied. “He’d often make bizarre comments like that about himself; he felt like somebody was out to get him. He said before that the government was out to get him.”
Testimony also focused on the morning before the murders, when Routh’s girlfriend called Watson for help.
“I was called over there because they were having an argument and I needed to calm him down,” he told the packed courtroom. Once Watson arrived, Weed had already left and Routh “was in fairly good spirits,” he recalled.
The two then “just hung out and talked,” Watson added.
Asked if they’d had any whiskey to drink, he replied, “I don’t remember drinking any whiskey that morning, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t.” He then confirmed that they did smoke marijuana together as they sat talking.
“Would you say you know good weed when you get it?” Starnes asked.
“Yes, ma’am,” said Watson, 45, who said he’s been smoking the drug since he was a teenager.
“Was it better than average?” she asked.
“Better than average, yes.”
“Did you get high?”
At one point, the two talked about spirituality and religion. Watson confirmed that they discussed the Bible and that he pulled up a hymn on his phone and played it for Routh.
“We talked at length about what was going on with him, but I do not remember the details,” he said, adding that Routh had been frustrated with his work and living situation for awhile.
After he was discharged from the Marines, “I noticed that he just kind of lost his desire for life and didn’t seem to find much joy in life after he came back,” Watson said of his nephew.
That morning, Watson says, Routh seemed in better spirits after they smoked marijuana.
“He mentioned in passing that he was going to a gun range that afternoon,” Watson said. “I knew he was going with Chris Kyle, but I didn’t know who Chris Kyle was.”
As they sat on Routh’s porch, “I heard someone coming up the driveway. I told Eddie that someone was at his house.”
Watson didn’t see the man from where he was sitting, but he heard his footsteps on the gravel.
“I heard someone introduce himself and say, ‘You must be Eddie.’ ”
Routh then left abruptly.
“I was concerned that he left without locking the house or putting the dog up,” Watson said. “I called Jen to find out where he was because he’d left so quickly.”
After Weed told him he was with Kyle, “I locked up my sister’s house [where Routh was living], put the dog up, made sure she had food and water and I left.”
Earlier in the day, Texas Ranger David Armstrong took the stand to discuss what he’d found at Routh’s home. Armstrong, who executed a search warrant following Routh’s arrest, held up several items that were taken from the home, including boxes with lids, a bong and a small pipe. Officers also found anti-psychotic medication that can be used to treat schizophrenia.