STEPHENVILLE, Texas -- A teary-eyed Taya Kyle, the widow of Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, took the stand on Wednesday as a prosecution witness in the murder trial of her husband’s killer. She remembered her veteran husband as a patriot and loving father who had his life taken as he tried to help a fellow veteran.
Asked to tell the jury the name of the man she was married to, Kyle choked back tears and replied, “Chris Kyle.” The widow grew emotional almost immediately as she was asked basic questions about her late husband.
“I’m sorry. I’m not nervous, I’m just emotional,” Kyle said at one point.
Taya Kyle, wife of slain Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, arrives at the Erath County Donald R. Jones Justice Center Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015, in Stephenville, Texas, for the opening day of the capital murder trial of former Marine Cpl. Eddie Ray Routh. Routh, 27, of Lancaster, Texas, is charged with the 2013 deaths of Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield at a shooting range near Glen Rose, Texas.(AP Photo/The Dallas Morning News, Tom Fox, Pool)
Prosecutors told jurors on Wednesday that defendant Eddie Ray Routh was high on marijuana and whiskey when he fatally shot Kyle, the former Navy SEAL depicted in the blockbuster "American Sniper," and Chad Littlefield. The defense didn't dispute that Routh killed the two men, but claimed he was in a state of "psychosis" and didn't realize what he was doing was wrong.
After going over her husband's legendary military career as a Navy SEAL in detail, Kyle was asked to describe several photographs of Chris Kyle, including one that included her and one of their children. She briefly broke down in tears on the stand as she struggled to give the prosecution the context behind the photos.
On Feb. 2, 2013, Kyle told jurors that she and Chris started their day like they did most Saturdays. They went to their kids' sporting events and chatted with some friends. Afterward, she said they took separate vehicles because Chris knew he had plans with a troubled veteran named Eddie Routh.
Taya Kyle, left, wife of slain Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, hugs family members as they arrive at the Erath County Donald R. Jones Justice Center, Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015, in Stephenville, Texas, for the opening day of the capital murder trial of former Marine Cpl. Eddie Ray Routh. Routh, 27, of Lancaster, Texas, is charged with the 2013 deaths of Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield at a shooting range near Glen Rose, Texas.(AP Photo/The Dallas Morning News, Tom Fox, Pool)
Kyle was again overcome with emotion when the prosecution asked her about the last time she saw her husband.
"We were at the house and we were trying to hurry and get where we were supposed to go," she said, her eyes wet and voice shaky. "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."
But Kyle also revealed that she talked to her husband on the phone later in the day and he sounded "irritated," though the prosecution made sure she didn't speculate as to why.
She said she later texted him, "I'm getting worried," when she couldn't get ahold of him. He never replied.
Kyle testified that she knew something was wrong when she started getting several calls and texts from various people, including people who served with Chris in the military. She was eventually told by a friend, who is also a law enforcement officer, that her husband had been killed.
The defense started its cross-examination of Kyle by offering condolences to the widow for her tragic loss, then questioned her about her husband's stance on gun safety.
When asked if Chris would have ever taken someone who appeared to have been drinking to a gun range, Kyle said her husband always used his best judgement. While he would never drink and shoot guns, it makes a difference if someone has one beer or is severely intoxicated, she said.
After some brief questioning about Chris Kyle's behavior after he returned home from military service, the defense passed on the witness and her testimony was concluded.
If convicted of capital murder in the case, Routh faces life in prison without parole. Prosecutors are not pursuing the death penalty.