Appeal from the 266th District Court Erath County, Texas
Trial Court Cause No. CR14024
consists of: Wright, C.J., Willson, J., and Bailey, J.
WRIGHT CHIEF JUSTICE.
jury rejected Eddie Ray Routh's insanity defense and
convicted him of capital murder for the murders of
Christopher Scott Kyle and Chad Hutson Littlefield.
See Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 19.03(a)(7) (West
Supp. 2016). The State did not seek the death penalty.
Therefore, the trial court assessed Appellant's
punishment at confinement for life without parole and
sentenced him accordingly. See id.
§12.31(a)(2); Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Ann. art. 37.071,
§ 1 (West Supp. 2016). We affirm.
challenges his conviction in three points of error. In his
first point of error, he asserts that the jury's verdict
was improper because Appellant did not know that his conduct
was wrong. Appellant maintains in his second point of error
that the trial court erred when it denied Appellant's
motion to suppress statements that he made to Texas Ranger
Danny Briley. Finally, in his third issue, Appellant contends
that the trial court abused its discretion when it overruled
his motion for a mistrial.
Appellant's first point of error to be a challenge to the
sufficiency of the evidence to support the jury's
rejection of Appellant's affirmative defense of insanity.
Section 8.01 of the Texas Penal Code provides: "It is an
affirmative defense to prosecution that, at the time of the
conduct charged, the actor, as a result of severe mental
disease or defect, did not know that his conduct was
wrong." Penal § 8.01(a) (West 2011). The Court of
Criminal Appeals has defined "wrong" in this
context to mean "illegal." Ruffin v.
State, 270 S.W.3d 586, 592 (Tex. Crim. App. 2008).
"[T]he question for deciding insanity is this: Does the
defendant factually know that society considers this conduct
against the law, even though the defendant, due to his mental
disease or defect, may think that the conduct is morally
justified?" Id. Appellant bore the burden to
prove his affirmative defense of insanity by a preponderance
of the evidence. Id. at 591 n.13, 592.
challenge to the legal sufficiency of the evidence to support
a rejection of an affirmative defense, we use the standards
for review expressed by the Supreme Court of Texas in
City of Keller v. Wilson. Matlock v. State,
392 S.W.3d 662, 668- 69 (Tex. Crim. App. 2013) (citing
City of Keller v. Wilson, 168 S.W.3d 802 (Tex.
2005)). We first look to whether there is more than a
scintilla of evidence to support the jury's rejection of
Appellant's affirmative defense. Id. at 669. We
review the evidence in the light most favorable to the
verdict, and we credit any favorable evidence if a reasonable
factfinder could and disregard any contrary evidence unless a
reasonable factfinder could not. Id. If we find no
evidence to support the jury's rejection of
Appellant's affirmative defense, we look to whether
Appellant established, as a matter of law, the elements of
his affirmative defense. Id. at 669- 70. Evidence
that is subject to a credibility assessment is not considered
because it is within the jury's province to disregard
that evidence. Id. at 670. "Only if the
appealing party establishes that the evidence conclusively
proves his affirmative defense and 'that no reasonable
jury was free to think otherwise, ' may the reviewing
court conclude that the evidence is legally insufficient to
support the jury's rejection of the defendant's
affirmative defense." Id. (footnote omitted)
(quoting Tanner v. Nationwide Mut. Fire Ins. Co.,
289 S.W.3d 828, 830 (Tex. 2009)).
determine whether the evidence was factually sufficient to
support the jury's rejection of Appellant's
affirmative defense, we look to whether the jury's
adverse finding was so against the great weight and
preponderance of the evidence as to be manifestly unjust.
Id. at 671 (citing Meraz v. State, 785
S.W.2d 146, 154- 55 (Tex. Crim. App. 1990)). We view all the
evidence in a neutral light, but we may not substitute our
judgment in place of the jury's assessment of the weight
and credibility of the witnesses' testimony. Id.
If we find that the evidence that supports the affirmative
defense so greatly outweighs the State's contrary
evidence that the verdict is manifestly unjust, we will
reverse the trial court's judgment and remand the case
for a new trial. Id. at 672.
is a former Marine, with service in Iraq and other places.
After Appellant's service ended, the Veterans
Administration diagnosed Appellant with post-traumatic stress
disorder. Sometime in early January 2013, Appellant's
mother, Jodi Routh, asked Kyle, a former Navy Seal, to help
Appellant. Jodi knew Kyle. Kyle's children attended the
elementary school where Jodi worked. She had seen Kyle there
from time to time and had heard a speech that he had given at
the school. She knew that he helped veterans and that he had
written a book. She told Kyle that the VA had diagnosed
Appellant with PTSD. Kyle told her that he also suffered from
PTSD and that he would do anything and everything in his
power to help Appellant, even though Kyle did not know
Appellant at the time.
on February 2, Kyle went to Appellant's home in
Lancaster; Littlefield went with him. After they picked up
Appellant, they drove to Rough Creek Lodge near Glen Rose;
they arrived at Rough Creek Lodge around 3:15 that afternoon.
When they arrived, Kyle stopped at the main lodge and went
inside to see if they could use the shooting range. Once they
were cleared to use the shooting range, they left the main
lodge and drove to the range. By 5:00 that afternoon, Kyle
and Littlefield lay dead on the shooting range.
suffered from multiple gunshot wounds. Kyle was shot six
times, and Littlefield was shot six or seven times, depending
on whether one bullet re-entered Littlefield's body after
its initial exit. Several bullets were recovered during the
autopsies. The State's firearms expert was able to match
the bullets recovered from Kyle to the Springfield XD-45 .45
auto caliber pistol that was found at the scene and was able
to match the bullets recovered from Littlefield to the Sig
Sauer semiautomatic P226 nine-millimeter Luger caliber pistol
that was found in Kyle's pickup after officers arrested
Appellant. Also found at the scene were eight shell casings
that matched the Springfield XD-45 pistol and three shell
casings that matched the Sig Sauer P226 pistol.
J. Ryan, a forensic operations specialist in New Jersey,
testified as an expert in the fields of shooting incident
reconstruction and bloodstain pattern analysis. He performed
a reconstruction of the incident and determined that Kyle did
not see the gunfire coming. Kyle's gunshot wounds were
located in one general area-the upper portion of the right
side of his body. The pattern indicated that Kyle did not
move after he was shot; the shots were incapacitating. The
pattern also indicated that the shooter would have been
fairly close to Kyle when he fired the shots.
further determined that the first two shots that Littlefield
sustained were shots to his back, one of which hit his spinal
column. He opined that those were also not long distance
shots and that they were also incapacitating. Ryan believed
that Littlefield went down to one or both knees after
sustaining the two shots to the back and that, while he was
on his knees, sustained a shot to the back of his head.
Littlefield then fell backward and ultimately landed on his
back. The evidence showed that Littlefield sustained a shot
to the top of his head and to his face either while he was on
his knees or was already on his back on the ground. Ryan
testified that the most likely scenario, due in part to a
lack of blood spatter evidence, was that Littlefield was
lying flat on his back when he sustained the shots to the top
of his head and to his face.
believed that the shooter would have been standing in between
Kyle and Littlefield, slightly behind them. Ryan also
believed that the shooter chose to wait until Kyle's
revolver was empty before he began shooting at Kyle and
Littlefield. The evidence further showed that Appellant fled
the scene in Kyle's pickup, made several stops before
returning to his home, and was ultimately apprehended by
officers with the Lancaster Police Department.
uncle, James Watson, testified that he talked to Appellant on
the day of the incident. Watson spent time with Appellant at
Appellant's home on the morning of the incident. Watson
saw Appellant again that afternoon when Appellant went to
Watson's house in Alvarado. They visited for a few
minutes at Watson's house, and Appellant showed him a
nine-millimeter semi-automatic handgun. Appellant was driving
a black Ford pickup that Watson had not seen him drive
before. He told Watson that he was driving a "dead
man's truck." Watson thought that Appellant was
talking about himself, not an actual dead person, because
Appellant often made "bizarre comments like that about
himself"; Appellant thought that the government was
after him. Appellant did not stay at Watson's for very
Blevins, Appellant's sister, testified that Appellant
called her cell phone on the evening of the offense. She did
not want to answer because she had "just about had [her]
limit" with his outbursts. He would talk about things
that were not relevant to their conversation and that were
"out of the blue." She knew that a knife had been
involved during his last outburst with his girlfriend, and
that fact "pushed [her] limits" for his being
around her child. Nevertheless, she answered the phone and
had a brief conversation with Appellant. Laura then gave the
phone to her husband, Gaines Blevins, so that he could talk
to Appellant. When she found out that Appellant was coming to
their house, she was angry. She told Gaines that, if
Appellant started talking nonsense, she was going to call the
police and have him committed. She knew that "he
wasn't quite right"; she wanted him to have
Appellant showed up at her house, Laura knew that he was not
himself. He was talking about "pigs sucking his
soul" or, as she wrote in her statement to police,
"people were sucking his soul and he could smell the
pigs." He told the Blevinses that he had killed two
guys. At first, Laura did not believe him because he was not
talking normally, but she started to get concerned when he
continued talking about it and when she saw the pickup that
he was driving. He told her that he took their souls before
they could take his and explained that they were out to get
him. He also told her that he sold his soul for a pickup.
Laura told him that he needed to turn himself in if he really
killed someone. Appellant told her that he was going to
Oklahoma, and he left shortly thereafter.
Laura called 9-1-1 and reported that Appellant had just left
her house and that he had said that he killed two men at a
shooting range and took one of their pickups. Laura also told
the dispatcher that she did not know whether Appellant was on
drugs but that he was crazy and psychotic. Gaines told the
dispatcher that Appellant had recently been diagnosed with
post-traumatic stress disorder. Laura testified that she was
not trying to help Appellant out by saying that he was
psychotic; she was just genuinely afraid for her family and
testified that Appellant came to their house on the evening
of the offense and that Appellant seemed confused and
"to not be there completely"; he was not his normal
self. However, Appellant did not smell like alcohol or
marihuana and did not appear to be drunk. The first thing
that Appellant said to Gaines was, "[I]s it just me or
is the world freezing over." He then went on to say that
"he took two souls before they could take his."
Appellant said he shot "Chris Kyle and his friend."
He explained that he was at target practice with them and
that he could not trust them anymore. He also said that he
traded his soul for the pickup that he was driving. Appellant
told them that he was going to try to get to Oklahoma before
Texas could get him. After Appellant left, the Blevinses
called 9-1-1 and then drove to the Midlothian Police
Michael Smith of the Criminal Investigations Division of the
Lancaster Police Department, who was assistant chief of the
department at the time of the incident, testified that, on
the date of the offense, he was called to Appellant's
home by Detective Jesse Chevera to "check on
things." Detective Chevera lived next door to Appellant
and, based on some information that he had learned, was
concerned about his house and his family.
was not at his house when Lieutenant Smith and Detective
Chevera arrived. However, Appellant arrived while the
officers were discussing the information that they had
received. Appellant was driving Kyle's pickup. Appellant
opened the door, but he never got out of the pickup.
Detective Chevera tried to get Appellant to talk to him and
to get out of the pickup, but Appellant refused. Appellant
shut the door, cracked the window, and turned off the pickup.
Appellant either told them that he had "taken a couple
of souls and he had some more souls to take" or that
"he had taken two souls that he had to take before they
took his." He made several other comments, such as:
"It's just happening so fast, I don't know if
I'm, um, going insane"; "The f---ing anarchy
has been killing the world"; and "I can feel
everybody feeding on my soul." Lieutenant Smith
testified that he did not know whether Appellant was
intoxicated, high, an odd guy, or "straight up
nuts"; he was just trying to get Appellant out of the
Lieutenant Smith and Detective Chevera talked to Appellant,
two other officers put "stop sticks" on the back
tires of Kyle's pickup in order to try to disable the
pickup. Appellant continued to refuse to get out of
approximately twenty to thirty minutes, Appellant fled in the
pickup, and multiple Lancaster police officers pursued him.
During the pursuit, an officer rammed the pickup with his
marked squad car, and the pickup eventually became disabled
and was no longer operable. Appellant got out of the pickup
with his hands up in the air and immediately got down on the
ground. Officers detained Appellant at approximately 8:30
asked why he ran from them, Appellant responded, "I have
been having panic attacks all day." The State presented
a video that depicted Appellant sitting in the back of a
patrol car. Appellant stated that he had a disease and had
been in Iraq. Appellant appeared very distraught. Officer
Flavio Salazar, of the Lancaster Police Department, tried to
get Appellant to calm down and relax so that the EMTs could
check him out. Appellant said that he did not know what was
happening in his world. Appellant was much calmer when no one
was around and the patrol car doors were closed, but he was
asked Detective Chevera if he was going to go to the insane
asylum; Detective Chevera did not respond. While in the
patrol car, he also stated that he was nervous about what had
been happening in his life that day, that he did not know
what had been happening, that he had been so paranoid
schizophrenic all day that he did not know what to think of
the world, that he did not know whether he was insane or
sane, and that he did not know what was sane in the world.
Officer Salazar transported Appellant to the Lancaster Police
Department, and when they arrived, Appellant said, "This
is like the most comfort I've had in a couple days being
in this cop car. I'm serious."
Ranger Briley conducted a custodial interrogation of
Appellant at the Lancaster Police Department. Ranger Briley
testified that he informed Appellant of his constitutional
rights, including the right to remain silent; Appellant
agreed to speak with him. He explained that Appellant
responded to questions in an unusual, bizarre, or
philosophical manner. There were times when Appellant's
responses had no logical connection to what Ranger Briley was
asking: "[s]ome of the stuff I had no clue what he's
told Ranger Briley that he kept "talking to Chrises in
my world" and that he would talk to one Chris and get
sent to another man named Chris. He said that he thought
about talking to the wolf, "the one in the sky."
"The ones in the sky are the ones that fly . . . the
pigs." He said that he could tell the difference between
"pig s--t" and "bulls--t" and two
different kinds of "pig s--t." He also told Ranger
Briley that there were no straight streets in Texas and that
there were no square towns. Appellant said that you
"can't just keep letting people eat your soul up for
free." He said that tons of people were eating at his
soul and that he could not sleep. He also commented that
"the Reds are already eating up all the Indians"
and that "the warlords aren't very happy with
me." He said that "the sandman keeps winning."
Appellant further commented that "you can eat souls when
you are down here, " "but you can never make any
more after . . . the true souls are gone." Several times
throughout the interview Appellant asked if Ranger Briley
could take off Appellant's handcuffs. At one point,
Appellant said that he needed to get the cuffs off before
they started strangling his neck.
the offense itself, Appellant told Ranger Briley that Kyle
and Littlefield came and got him from his house and they
drove down to the country and did some shooting sports. He
explained to Ranger Briley that Kyle and Littlefield were
head hunters and were trying to hunt people down. He admitted
that he killed Kyle and Littlefield with a nine-millimeter
pistol. He said that he fired "a couple, few" shots
and that he was "right up close to them." They just
lay there after he killed them; they were not breathing
anymore. It happened around two or three o'clock. With
regard to Kyle, he explained that he knew that, if he did not
take Kyle's soul, Kyle was going to take his soul next or
have one of Kyle's gangsters take it.
told Ranger Briley that he fled after he shot Kyle and
Littlefield. He drove to his sister's house and asked her
if she wanted to see the guns in the pickup. He reported to
Ranger Briley that he told his sister that he had to kill a
man and that it was not a "want to, " it was a
"need"; otherwise, he "would be the next one
out there getting [his] head shot completely off."
Appellant told Ranger Briley that he understood the
difference between right and wrong and that he knew what he
did was wrong. He said that he knew killing them was wrong.
Appellant asked Ranger Briley whether his parents had made it
yet. He wanted to give his mom a hug one last time.
told Ranger Briley that he was sorry for what he had done and
that he wanted to get help. He wanted to tell the family that
he was so sorry for what he had done and that, if he could
have done it differently, he would have done it so much
addition to Ranger Briley's testimony that Appellant had
admitted to him that he killed Kyle and Littlefield, Gene
Cole, a deputy at the Erath County Sheriff's Office in
2013, testified that, while he was on duty at the Erath
County Jail, he heard Appellant say, "I shot them
because they wouldn't talk to me." He further heard
Appellant say, "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
on Appellant's responses to Ranger Briley's questions
about whether Appellant knew what he did was wrong, Ranger
Briley believed that "clearly [Appellant] knew what he
was doing was wrong." He explained that Appellant was
able to recall specific details about the trip to the gun
range, one of the murder weapons, and the crime itself.
Ranger Briley also believed that Appellant knew what he did
was wrong because Appellant used the word "fled"
when he told Ranger Briley what he did after he left the
Briley asked Appellant whether he had used drugs at all that
day, and Appellant told him that he had used marihuana.
Ranger Briley asked him if there was anything else, besides
marihuana, and Appellant said, "[Y]ou can't trust
anything in Texas . . . because it's usually laced up,
you know, laced up so f---king tight with different
drugs." In response to Ranger Briley's question of
what the marihuana would have been laced with if it was
laced, Appellant responded that the marihuana could have been
"wet" with "Purple Hearts" or laced with
anything, including formaldehyde.
Salazar and Texas Ranger Ronald Eugene Pettigrew described
"wet" marihuana as marihuana that had been dipped
in Phencyclidine (PCP) or formaldehyde. They explained that
"Purple Hearts" was a slang term for a form of
marihuana that had higher THC levels or was more potent than
other strains; the strain was also called "Purple
Kush." Ranger Pettigrew agreed on cross-examination
that, in order to know whether marihuana was "wet,
" it had to be tested by a chemist. However, the
State's chemist explained that the presence of
formaldehyde could not be tested because formaldehyde was a
very volatile chemical that evaporated very quickly and would
most likely evaporate by the time it was received for
Ranger David Armstrong and other Texas Rangers searched
Appellant's house and found several items of drug
paraphernalia. Specifically, they found two pipes, two
packages of rolling papers, a rolling mechanism, a grinder, a
bong, a ceramic smoking device that looked like a cigarette,
and a leafy substance that was later identified as marihuana.
The marihuana and drug paraphernalia did not test positive
for any foreign substances such as formaldehyde. Ranger
Armstrong testified that he smelled marihuana in the house
but admitted that he did not put that in his report. He did
not touch the pipes or the bong to see if they were warm.
Armstrong also testified that there was a whiskey bottle that
was "not even a quarter of the way full" on the
kitchen table but that he had no idea when someone last drank
out of it. He also found a prescription bottle of
risperidone, an antipsychotic medication that was prescribed
to Appellant, on top of the refrigerator.
was not subjected to a blood draw, nor did the investigating
officers pursue a warrant to seize Appellant's blood.
Ranger Armstrong testified that he did not get close enough
to Appellant to smell alcohol or marihuana on Appellant and
that he did not remember any of the other officers that were
at the scene of Appellant's arrest telling him that they
smelled alcohol or marihuana on Appellant. Ranger Briley
testified that he did not smell alcohol on Appellant during
his interview of Appellant. However, Sergeant Kenny Phillips,
who was working at the Erath County Jail in February 2013,
testified that he believed that Appellant was under the
influence when he transported Appellant from the Lancaster
Police Department to the Erath County Jail.
Ranger Michael Adcock testified that he found a receipt from
Taco Bell in the driver's side door of Kyle's pickup.
The receipt showed a purchase of two bean burritos from the
Taco Bell in Red Oak at 6:50 p.m. on the night of the
incident. Texas Ranger Pettigrew found a cell phone in the
center console of Kyle's pickup. He took that cell phone,
which was later determined to belong to Littlefield, and
Kyle's cell phone found at the scene of the crime to the
Secret Service for analysis.
Shaffer, who was employed by the Secret Service during the
time of the investigation and specialized in digital
forensics, testified that he received three phones to
analyze: one belonged to Kyle, one to Littlefield, and one to
Watson. Shaffer retrieved several text messages between
Kyle's and Littlefield's phones regarding Appellant.
The first message was sent from Kyle to Littlefield at 2:30
p.m. on the day of the offense and read: "[T]his dude is
straight up nuts." At 2:32 p.m., Littlefield responded
to Kyle: "[S]itting behind ...