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Widow of slain 'American Sniper' recalls their last conversation

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By Ralph Ellis, Ben Brumfield and Jason Hanna, CNN

The widow of Chris Kyle, the protagonist in the top-selling book and hit movie "American Sniper," testified Wednesday that she "could tell something was up" the day her husband and a friend were shot to death at a rifle range.

Taking the stand in the Texas murder trial of Eddie Ray Routh, Taya Kyle recounted the last conversation with her husband, on the phone February 2, 2013.

"I said are you OK?" she said. "He said 'yep.' And that's not common for him. I could tell something was up and he was just quiet ..."

On that day, Kyle took friend Chad Littlefield and Routh, a troubled veteran he was trying to help, to a firing range at Rough Creek Lodge, about 90 miles southwest of Dallas. Taya Kyle said her husband sounded irritated.

"Normally, going out there, especially a place like Rough Creek -- usually it's beautiful. He feels really good about helping somebody, he's making their day and he knows it," she testified. "Earlier, he thought that guy sounded really excited to go, so he thought he was doing a good thing."

She said their last conversation "was very short, and it wasn't short like, 'Hey, you are interrupting a good time.' It was short like, 'I wish I could say more but I'm not going to because there were people around.' "

Later she texted and he didn't reply, and she became worried, she testified.

Prosecutors warned they would be showing graphic photos of Kyle's and Littlefield's bodies. Taya Kyle remained in the courtroom.

Routh is charged with murder in the killings of Kyle and Littlefield.

In opening statements, defense lawyer Ed Moore said Routh killed the two men because he suffered "a psychosis so severe that at that point in time he did not know what he was doing was wrong. ... He thought in his mind at that moment in time it was either him or them."

But Erath County District Attorney Alan Nash told the jury that Routh told investigators he used drugs and drank whiskey that morning. He admitted that he killed the two men and said he "knew what he was doing was wrong," the prosecutor said.

The trial comes just weeks after the release of the film about Kyle, a former Navy SEAL who claimed to be the deadliest sniper in U.S. history with 160 confirmed kills in Iraq. The film has grossed more than $280 million, the most ever for a war movie, and the autobiography by the same name spent weeks on best-seller lists.


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Guest Wednesday, 23 September 2020