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'American Sniper': How the Oscars Played in Town Where Murder Trial Is Playing Out

Eddie Ray Routh is on trial for murder for shooting and killing the hero of "American Sniper."
Image: Bradley Cooper arrives at the 87th Academy Awards in Hollywood,
Bradley Cooper, best actor nominee for his role in "American Sniper," arrives at the Academy Awards.LUCAS JACKSON / Reuters

STEPHENVILLE, Texas — People watched the Oscars here with a special interest in “American Sniper.” This is the town where a jury is about to write the final scene.

Eddie Ray Routh is on trial for murder for shooting and killing Chris Kyle, the movie’s Navy SEAL hero, and another man. Closing arguments are expected Tuesday, less than 48 hours after the film contended for six awards.

Kyle’s widow, Taya, has attended every day of the trial. She flew to Los Angeles for the Oscars, where Bradley Cooper was up for best actor and “Sniper” was up for best picture.

“It took a lot for her to be there,” Elizabeth Tench, whose brother is a Marine, said in Stephenville on Sunday night. “She represented military families and her family. She is strong to keep her composure and be there. She looks beautiful in green.”

“Sniper” took home only one Oscar, for sound editing. But fans in this town of 17,000 said it would not change their opinion.

“He won before his story was even told,” Andy Kelley said.

Scott Mangham watched the Oscars with his girlfriend while he ate at the Hard Eight BBQ. Employees say that Taya Kyle has eaten there during the trial. The restaurant is walking distance from the jail where Routh, an ex-Marine, awaits his fate.

Mangham, a flight instructor, saw the movie Friday night. “Thought it was up to the hype,” he said. “Theater sold out, and I could see why.”


— Amy Calvin