Right now, Eddie Ray Routh is sitting in jail in Erath County, where he has been since February, when he was accused of shooting and killing former sniper Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield at a Glen Rose gun range. A recent New Yorker profile of Kyle outlined Routh's long history of mental illness, his violent bouts of paranoia and threat-making, and his numerous, ineffective stays at both the Dallas VA and Green Oaks Hospital. It also detailed how Routh and Kyle met: Routh's mother, Jodi, a special-education aide, approached Kyle, a former Navy SEAL, as he was dropping his children off at school. Her son was a former Marine with PTSD, she told Kyle. Could he help?
The details of the case that have become public so far are disturbing: Routh fled the scene in Kyle's big black pickup. He drove to his sister's house, where he told her and her husband that he'd "traded his soul for a new truck." Then he drove away, trying to make it to Oklahoma. He didn't get far.
Now, as Routh sits in jail -- he has yet to be indicted in the 90 days since his arrest, as Texas law requires -- Chris Kyle's widow, Taya, has been discussing Kyle's life and the case in various media outlets. On Thursday, appearing on Glenn Beck's radio show, she told Beck that she doesn't believe PTSD was to blame for Kyle's death.
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Taya Kyle has resisted any impulses to make her husband's death into a debate about mental illness or a call for stricter gun control. In a recent interview with Guns.com, she said, in part, "I think we have to be careful about what the media is feeding us on this issue. The media has a tendency to over-dramatize certain tragic but very rare events. It skews our perception. The truth is humans have been committing evil against each other from day one. The reality also is that guns are used to protect and save lives every day. They are also used to put organic food on our tables every day. It's just not reported."
In her interview with Beck, she reiterated that she didn't believe mental illness or guns were to blame for Routh's alleged actions. "Over the weekend, you gave an interview where you said there was a lot more involved than post-traumatic stress syndrome in your husband's killing," Beck said. "Do you care to go into that at all?"
Kyle replied that she wasn't able to discuss the case in much detail before the trial. That being said, she added, "Personally, I've never had it confirmed that this guy had PTSD. That's the first thing that really bothers me. I know people want to find a reason why one young man would turn his gun on two people that were there to help, and kill them in cold blood. But in my opinion, the reason is not PTSD."
Kyle added that she knows a large number of people who "have PTSD legitimately. But they don't use it as an excuse ... It doesn't change their character. They just deal with their own internal struggles. They may have mood swings. They may have sleepless nights. But they don't kill innocent people. You can't blame murder on PTSD, in my opinion and from everything I've learned about it ... I think it will become very, very clear that this is not a case of PTSD, and we do not need to give a scarlet letter to people who legitimately have it. It doesn't make them murderers."