The trial took 9 days and the verdict took 2 and a half hours. That included an hour for dinner. I waited to talk about this one till it was over. I am talking about “The American Sniper Trial”. It is a story so famous that the film shadowing the story made $400 Million dollars, it was featured with Oscar nominations at the Oscars during the trial. The sniper’s widow was all over the media. How they found an impartial jury is beyond me and impossible. When you look beyond all the heroism and tragedy it is a case of friendly fire among soldiers especially when the young men are high on drugs and stupid over too much drinking. Just look at the murderer at the time of the killing. His vacant eyes look like every other young man who shot up movie theaters and schools and every other irrational act of violence lately.
The jury found the troubled ex-marine Eddie Ray Ralph guilty of murdering Chris Kyle another fellow Army Veteran in cold blood. His insanity defense was rejected after an hour of deliberation at night. It is a final chapter to a story that seemed to capture the world and our country that told us all what it was like for our soldiers fighting 15 years of wars in the Middle East with people that do not wear any identifiable uniform most of the time. Yet our American soldiers always wore their uniform and they always knew who we were. Clint Eastwood who acted in a few war movies knew what to do when he directed the successful movie of Chris Kyle’s service to our country. We saw the story that most Veterans never want to repeat.
Judge Jason Cashon from the Erath County District Court presided over a court decision of guilty of capital murder in the killing of Navy Seal Sniper Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield. The jury of 10 women and 2 men rejected Ralph guilty by reason of insanity. We all know and he admitted to pulling the trigger and killing Kyle and that was never in dispute. The question after weeks of testimony from almost 31 witnesses was if Ralph was a cold blooded murderer or was the Marine Veteran so mentally ill, he didn’t know right from wrong when he killed the men. Swayed by the prosecution they voted guilty without the possibility of parole.
This trial went on for 2 years. American Sniper was nominated for 6 Oscars this year. R. Shay Isham, the Defense Attorney always said that Ralph did not know what he was doing. They admitted that he was intoxicated and reckless and suffering from schizophrenia at the time of the shooting. Excuses do not mask that people died. In my opinion too much time is given for obvious admitted crimes. It all happened at a gun range to help guys cope with post- traumatic stress. I never understood how putting deadly weapon in the hands of any sick person could even mildly be considered therapeutic. The prosecution only opened the case about 3 weeks ago.
The men were shot multiple times at close range. Then Ralph led the police on a high speed chase at about 100 miles per hour. The prosecution played the dash board camera video from the police car for the jury. One police car rammed the truck but didn’t stop it. The chase continued until the truck suffered mechanical problems and stopped in the middle of the interstate where Ralph came out with hands up. In the squad car he said, “I’ve been paranoid schizophrenic all day.” This is a treatable illness and not a defense for murder. If Chris Kyle knew he was suffering from a mental illness untreated he would have never went to that range with him.
The movie was about courage under stress that he survived from. His life was about fear for his fellow soldier that took his life. Tragedy like a good Shakespearean story lives on here in our present. We must collect all the young men high on drugs and booze with crazy eyes off the streets of America no matter their past and get them away from sane responsible people. Most importantly keep them away from weapons.