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Lawyer to seek psych exam for vet in shooting

Feb. 6, 2013 - 08:10PM   |   Last Updated: Feb. 6, 2013 - 08:10PM  |  
Eddie Ray Routh
Eddie Ray Routh (Erath County Sheriff's Office via AP)
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DALLAS — An attorney for the Iraq War veteran accused of killing a former Navy SEAL sniper and his friend at a Texas shooting range said Wednesday that he will ask for a court-appointed psychiatrist to examine his client.

R. Shay Isham, who was appointed by the court to represent Eddie Ray Routh, said the psychatrist's exam is necessary to determine whether Routh is competent to stand trial for gunning down Chris Kyle, author of the best-selling book "American Sniper," and friend Chad Littlefield.

Routh's other court-appointed attorney, J. Warren St. John, said Routh was released from the Dallas Veterans Affairs hospital against his family's wishes just two days before the shootings.

"There are just so many mental health issues associated with this case," St. John said Wednesday.

Routh, 25, is jailed on $3 million bond. He's charged with a capital murder count and two murder counts stemming from the killings at a rural shooting range Saturday about 50 miles southwest of Fort Worth.

Members of Routh's family have told authorities that he was a troubled vet who had been hospitalized for mental problems and had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, according to records and 911 recordings.

Routh joined the Marines in 2006 and rose to the rank of corporal in 2010. He served in Iraq from 2007-08. He is now in the individual ready reserve.

Isham said he had a 15-minute conversation with his client Monday but learned little from it.

"It was pretty one-sided," he said. "It was more about process, logistics."

Erath County Sheriff Tommy Bryant said Routh is on medication but refused to take it Wednesday. He said he doesn't know what the medication is.

"His mood apparently changes quite a bit," Bryant said.

Routh's sister told authorities that her brother had come to her suburban Dallas home Saturday night and admitted killing Kyle and Littlefield, saying he was "going to get their souls before they took his," according to a search warrant affidavit prepared by the Texas Rangers.

Lancaster police records show that Routh was placed in protective custody and transported to a psychiatric hospital in September after officers were contacted by his mother. According to the incident report, the officers were told that Routh had threatened to kill himself and his family.

Kyle and Littlefield apparently had been helping Routh work through PTSD, according to the director of the nonprofit that Kyle set up to give in-home fitness equipment to physically and emotionally wounded veterans.

Kyle, 38, left the Navy in 2009 after four tours of duty in Iraq, where he earned a reputation as one of the military's most lethal snipers. Littlefield, 35, was Kyle's neighbor and also volunteered his time to work with veterans.

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