By Jamie Stengle
DALLAS — The widow of famed “American Sniper” author Chris Kyle says in her upcoming book that she struggled with the idea of whether her husband’s killer should be executed.
Taya Kyle writes in “American Wife,” which will be published next week by William Morrow, that she concluded she would be fine with either the death penalty or life in prison. “That was as far as I could go toward forgiveness,” she wrote.
Kyle describes her life with the famed former Navy SEAL sniper and coping after his 2013 death at a Texas gun range. The Associated Press purchased an early copy of the book, written with Jim DeFelice, who also co-authored her husband’s bestselling memoir of his Iraq tours that was turned into an Oscar-nominated movie.
Kyle and his friend, Chad Littlefield, were shot to death by former Marine Eddie Ray Routh, whose mother had asked Kyle to help him. The prosecutor decided not to seek the death penalty, so Routh was automatically sentenced to life in prison after his capital murder conviction in February.
Taya Kyle said that while she still believes in the death penalty, she also has “come around to the view that life without parole may in fact be a worse punishment than death.”
Trial testimony revealed Routh had been hospitalized for psychiatric treatment and prescribed medication to treat schizophrenia. But jurors found the insanity defense mounted by his lawyers failed to meet the legal threshold: a mental illness so severe he didn’t know right from wrong.
Erath County District Attorney Alan Nash told the AP Thursday that he decided not to seek the death penalty after weighing several factors, including that the jury and higher courts could consider Routh’s military service and mental health records. He said it also led to a faster conclusion as opposed to years and years of appeals.
Chris Kyle met Routh for the first time the day he was killed, Taya Kyle wrote, adding: “Chris didn’t know the young man, nor was he told the vast depths of his problems.”
She writes about deciding to have her husband laid to rest at Texas State Cemetery in Austin instead of Arlington National Cemetery. They had talked about it after a friend’s funeral and she wrote that her husband told her: “I just want to be wherever is best for ya’ll.”
He also told her: “I want a big funeral. I’m gone, right? Blow it out.”
Thousands attended his memorial service held at AT&T Stadium, where his coffin was placed at the Dallas Cowboys’ star at midfield.