News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Go Inside Stephenville Courtroom As Jury Selection Begins In Chris Kyle Murder Trial

Update, 6:20 p.m.: About 40 people have been excused, exempt or disqualified from the jury pool in The State of Texas v. Eddie Ray Routh.

The 27-year-old Lancaster native is accused of killing two Midlothian men,  Chad Littlefield, and author Chris Kyle, who's book was made into a movie, now in theaters, called American Sniper

Both men were found dead at a shooting range in Erath County, where Routh has been jailed for the last two years. 

When the courts opened Thursday morning, Judge Jason Cashon told the potential jurors: "It's ok ​if you've seen the movie; We're aware that there's a movie out there called American Sniper."

Update, 1:00 p.m.: Defendant Eddie Ray Routh wasn't in chains when he walked in and sat down in front of potential jurors inside the Stephenville courtroom.  

His head shaved, his beard gone, and wearing thick-rimmed eye-glasses, with a light-colored shirt and dark suit jacket, he could have almost been mistaken for a lawyer. 

The 27-year-old was alert, and observant, facing about 100 Erath County citizens summoned to the Donald R. Jones Justice Center. While his three attorneys discussed details related to potential jury selection, Routh listened attentively, and at times smiled.

By 1 p.m., Judge Jason Cashon had dismissed three men and three women who said pretrial publicity about the death of former Navy Seal Chris Kyle and his neighbor Chad Littlefield would have influenced their findings of a verdict. One of those, a local school-teacher, Chris Conway, told reporters outside the courthouse that he didn't think he could be "impartial," and didn't believe "Routh's insanity defense was credible."

Another 15 jurors were dismissed for medical or educational reasons, and one person was sent home for being unable to read and write. 

Jury selection is expected to last four days. 

Doualy Xaykaothao is a newscaster and reporter for NPR, based in Culver City. She returned to NPR for this role in 2018, and is responsible for writing, producing, and delivering national newscasts. She also reports on breaking news stories for NPR.