"American Sniper" Trial Jury Picked: 10 Women, 2 Men - NBC New York
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"American Sniper" Trial Jury Picked: 10 Women, 2 Men

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Jury Seated in Chris Kyle Slaying Trial

    A jury has been seated in the trial of the man accused of fatally shooting a former Navy SEAL depicted in the Oscar-nominated film "American Sniper." (Published Monday, Feb. 9, 2015)

    A jury was seated Monday in the trial of a man charged with killing the former Navy SEAL depicted in the Oscar-nominated movie "American Sniper," after extra efforts to keep publicity about the case and the movie from preventing a fair trial.

    Ten women and two men will serve as jurors for the trial of Eddie Ray Routh starting Wednesday.

    Routh, a former Marine, is charged with capital murder in the deaths of 38-year-old Chris Kyle and Kyle's friend, 35-year-old Chad Littlefield.

    The lawyers went as far in the jury pool as juror 146 to choose all 12 jurors plus two alternates.

    The judge warned the chosen jurors not to violate the court's rules which include a ban on contact with reporters or he may require members to be sequestered for the entire trial. Jurors will be sequestered for deliberation.

    One potential juror was excluded from the trial and scolded by the judge for speaking with a British reporter last week. That reporter may be excluded from the trial if he returns. He was not in court Monday.

    Pretrial motions, if there are any, will be heard Tuesday morning, and opening statements are scheduled to begin Wednesday at 9 a.m.

    On Monday the judge again refused a defense motion to move the trial because of pretrial publicity.

    The movie based on Kyle's memoir as a celebrated sniper who served four tours in Iraq has grossed nearly $300 million. In response to the attention paid to the Kyle case, officials called in more than four times as many potential jurors as they would for a regular trial.

    The county's top prosecutor and the judge overseeing the case both told prospective jurors they would only insist that jurors who have seen the movie or read the book set their prior knowledge aside when they hear evidence. The movie ends with a depiction of Kyle meeting Routh, followed by footage from Kyle's funeral.

    "It's hard not to have knowledge of this case," Erath County District Attorney Alan Nash said. "It's pervasive."

    Nash asked potential jurors Monday morning if they were unable to set aside what they'd already heard. No one among about 130 potential jurors in court raised their hand.

    State District Judge Jason Cashon said the selection of jurors who appeared to be impartial showed that pretrial publicity has not been so extreme and it should be possible to hold a fair trial in Erath County.

    Cashon estimated that no more than two dozen potential jurors had been dismissed from serving due to pretrial publicity.

    Routh's attorneys plan to pursue an insanity defense. Prosecutors won't seek the death penalty. He faces life in prison without parole if convicted.

    Jurors were told to expect about two more weeks in court before the trial is over.

    Family members have said Routh, 27, struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder after leaving the Marines in 2010. The small arms technician served in Iraq and was deployed to earthquake-ravaged Haiti. Kyle took Routh to the shooting range after Routh's mother asked if he could help her son.

    Kyle made more than 300 kills as a sniper for SEAL Team 3, according to his own count and earned two Silver Stars for valor. After leaving the military, Kyle volunteered with veterans facing mental health problems, often taking them shooting.

    About two hours after Kyle, Littlefield and Routh arrived at Rough Creek Lodge and Resort on Feb. 2, 2013, an employee discovered the bodies of Kyle and Littlefield at the remote range.

    Authorities say Routh drove to his sister's house in Kyle's truck, telling her and her husband that he had killed Kyle and Littlefield.

    His sister told police that Routh "was out of his mind, saying people were sucking his soul and that he could smell the pigs."

    Get the latest from NBC 5's Ken Kalthoff, tweeting live from the courthouse.