Four months after he shot "American Sniper" Chris Kyle to death, Eddie Ray Routh told a reporter: "It tore my (expletive) heart out what I did. I don’t know why I did it, but I did it."
Prosecutors in Stephenville, Texas, played the recording for jurors for the first time Tuesday as Routh’s murder trial neared its conclusion. Routh, speaking by phone from jail, was talking to a reporter from The New Yorker magazine on May 31, 2013.
"I feel so (expletive) about it," Routh said. "I guess you live and learn, you know."
The case was turned over to the jury Tuesday evening and deliberations began.
Routh, who had served in Iraq, shot and killed Kyle and the other man, Chad Littlefield, at a Texas gun range during what was meant to be a therapeutic session to help him cope with post-traumatic stress. He fled in Kyle’s truck and later confessed in a rambling statement to police.
A defense psychiatrist testified that he suffered from schizophrenia. Experts on both sides played down PTSD, and a prosecution expert said that Routh wasn't insane at all, just high.
A murder conviction would mean an automatic life sentence. If Routh is found not guilty by insanity, the court could have him committed to a mental hospital.
"American Sniper," the movie based on Kyle’s account of his experiences as a Navy SEAL, was nominated for best picture at the Oscars. Kyle's widow, Taya, attended the ceremony on Sunday night before flying back to Texas for the rest of the trial.
— Jacob Rascon and Erin McClam