Chris Kyle’s widowbroke down in tears on Wednesday as she described the last time she saw her husband alive on the day he died, telling a Texas courtroom, ‘We said we loved each other and gave each other a hug and kissed.’
Giving testimony sat in front of the man who shot dead Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield on February 2, 2013, Taya Kyle, 40, struggled to maintain her composure on the stand during trying and difficult testimony.
Often stopping to wipe away tears, Taya told the court she had a ‘bad feeling’ that Saturday afternoon around 2pm or 3pm when Kyle spoke to her from the Rough Creek Ranch gun range.
She said she could tell, ‘Something was up, but I didn’t know exactly what’, shortly before Kyle was shot five times in the back and once in the head by troubled Marine veteran Eddie Ray Routh.
Indeed, the court had earlier heard during opening statements that ‘American Sniper’ Kyle was so concerned at the situation unfolding at the range he texted Littlefield and wrote, ‘This dude is straight-up nuts’.
All this came after Routh pleaded not guilty on Wednesday morning.
While the fact he killed Kyle and Littlefield is not disputed, his mental competency is.
Routh’s lawyers will try to show he did not know right from wrong at the time while the prosecution will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt he did.
Taya explained she could tell ‘things were not right’ at the gun range and that her husband sounded ‘irritated’, as Kyle and Littlefield attempted to help Routh, who had experienced difficulties readjusting since returning from his own service in Iraq.
Wearing her husbands dog tags as a necklace before she testified and holding them in her hand on the stand, Taya said that she was pleased their last words were loving.
‘We were at the house and we were trying to hurry and get where we were supposed to go,’ she said as they prepared to take separate cars.
‘We said we love each other and he picked up and hugged his kids like he always did. And when I left he was still in the driveway trying to get more stuff in there.’
Earlier, during opening statements, a defense lawyer for Routh said that Routh’s insanity was so evident that Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield exchanged texts expressing alarm as the three rode together in February 2013 to the Texas shooting range.
‘He’s (sitting) right behind me, watch my six,’ Littlefield texted back, using a military reference for watching one’s back.
Dressed in a conservative brown dress and matching shawl, mother-of-two Taya cried almost immediately upon taking the stand when the prosecutor simply asked her to confirm the name of her husband.
She then went on to tell the court that her husband had never met Routh before the day he died and that he had only decided to help after the former Marine’s mother pleaded with him.
Kyle, who is recognized as the deadliest sniper in American military history had begun working with veterans affected by their time in Afghanistan and Iraq and would travel to gun ranges with them as a means of therapy.
Taya told the court that the American Sniper author believed a week in the outdoors was better than a week in hospital.
Pausing to collect herself, Kaya went through family pictures, some of which showed Kyle cleanly shaven, which she admitted she had only known him to be once or twice during the time they knew each other.
She told the court that Kyle himself had difficulty after leaving the Navy SEALS in 2009 and that he would drink and suffered night sweats.
She revealed to the court that on his return from his final tour in Iraq he had put on weight, but ‘still looked great’.
In a particularly emotional section of testimony, Taya told the court how the day her husband died unfolded.
She said that she became uneasy when Kyle did not reply to a text asking how he was after the suspicious phone call where he sounded annoyed.
She then said their son interrupted this disquiet by telling her ‘today was the best day ever of his life’ but that this was shockingly cut short by a police officer – a high school friend of Kyle’s – coming to their door to tell her ‘Chris had been hurt.’
Taya then went on to detail to the court the horrific moment she was told he had been killed at the gun range.
Taya also told the court that the decision to write his controversial New York Times bestseller, American Sniper, was not to court fame or celebrity.
‘He didn’t want to write a book, but because of his record, people were going to write about him,’ said Taya, telling the courtroom that her husband wanted to give credit to others. ‘He was an incredibly fast draw.’
SOURCE: Reuters / AP / DailyMail