Expert: Texas Law Makes Insanity Plea Hard to Successfully Prove

Eddie Ray Routh is charged with shooting former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield at a Texas gun range.

Pitch

The trial for the killing of former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle has garnered the attention of most of the country thanks to the timing of the release of the film “American Sniper.” Eddie Ray Routh is charged with shooting Kyle and Chad Littlefield at a Texas gun range and faces up to life in prison if convicted.

The attorneys for Routh, who was released from psychiatric care just days before the killings, argue Routh should be found not guilty by reason of insanity, even though a video was played at the trial this week where Routh admitted knowing what he did was wrong.

Brian Shannon, the Charles B. “Tex” Thornton Professor of Law at Texas Tech University, is an expert with the legal aspects of mental health issues used in trials and is available to discuss their use in the Routh trial.

Expert

Brian Shannon, Charles B. “Tex” Thornton Professor of Law, (806) 834-6366 or brian.shannon@ttu.edu

Talking Points

  • Kyle and Littlefield took Routh to a gun range in Erath County, southwest of Fort Worth, in an effort to help Routh, who was dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder from his time serving in the U.S. Marine Corps.
  • Shannon has already given one interview on the subject, to ABC News. That interview can be read here.

Quotes

  • “Texas has an extremely narrow insanity defense. The defendant has the burden of persuading the jury that, because of serious mental illness, the defendant did not know his conduct was wrong.”
  • “Although there are exceptions, the defense is seldom successful in Texas when an insanity plea is vigorously contested by the prosecution.”