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A Jury convicted Eddie Ray Routh in the American Sniper trial because he knew right from wrong

A jury of 10 women and 2 men rejected Eddie Ray Routh’s claim of legal insanity, despite evidence that he suffered from PTSD and schizophrenia and was delusional when he shot and killed Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield at a shooting range in Stephenville, Texas two years ago. The verdict was not unexpected to anyone familiar with the insanity defense. In fact, it was never in doubt.

Routh was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.

Insanity is a legal definition, not a mental illness. In order to satisfy the legal test, a person must have a mental disease or defect and be unable to distinguish between right and wrong. Any effort to conceal the commission of a crime or to deny responsibility for it constitutes evidence that the person knew he or she did something wrong. In this case, Routh admitted to police that he knew killing Kyle and Littlefield was wrong and that sealed his fate even though he was psychotic when he killed them and psychotic when the police interviewed him.

In the 30 years that I was a felony criminal defense lawyer, I was successful asserting the insanity defense only once and that was because the prosecutor and the prosecutor’s expert agreed that my client satisfied the legal test. As a practical matter, that is about the only way to prevail.

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Frederick Leatherman

Frederick Leatherman

I am a former law professor and felony criminal defense lawyer who practiced in state and federal courts for 30 years specializing in death penalty cases, forensics, and drug cases.

I taught criminal law, criminal procedure, law and forensics, and trial advocacy for three years after retiring from my law practice.

I also co-founded Innocence Project Northwest (IPNW) at the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle and recruited 40 lawyers who agreed to work pro bono, assisted by law students, representing 17 innocent men and women wrongfully convicted of sexually abusing their children in the notorious Wenatchee Sex Ring witch-hunt prosecutions during the mid 90s. All 17 were freed from imprisonment.

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