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Iraq war veteran indicted in death of former U.S. military sniper

Eddie Ray Routh is pictured in this booking photo provided by the Erath County Sheriff’s Office. Routh is a suspect in the shooting and kill
Eddie Ray Routh is pictured in this booking photo provided by the Erath County Sheriff’s Office. Routh is a suspect in the shooting and kill

By Karen Brooks

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - An Iraq war veteran accused of gunning down former U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, a decorated military sniper, at a Texas shooting range was indicted by a grand jury on Wednesday.

Eddie Ray Routh, 25, faces a capital murder charge for allegedly killing Kyle, 38, and a neighbor of Kyle's, 35-year-old Chad Littlefield, with a semiautomatic pistol in February at a shooting range near Fort Worth.

The charge is punishable by life without parole or the death penalty.

The victims were at a shooting range designed by Kyle at the Rough Creek Lodge, an upscale retreat about 50 miles southwest of Fort Worth that offers horseback riding, fishing, golf, shooting sports and other outdoor activities.

Kyle and Littlefield took Routh to the shooting range to try to help him relax and deal with personal problems, police have said.

After the shooting, Routh drove in Kyle's truck to his sister's home in Midlothian, a Dallas suburb, and confessed to shooting the two men.

In a 911 call to Midlothian police, Routh's sister and her husband told the dispatcher that Routh suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and had recently been a patient at a mental hospital.

Routh was on active duty in the Marines from 2006 to 2010, and is currently a reservist. He served in Iraq in 2007 and in Haiti following a devastating earthquake there in 2010, and received several medals, including one for good conduct.

Kyle served four combat tours of duty in Iraq and elsewhere, and he won two Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars for bravery, according to his book, "American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History."

After leaving the Navy, Kyle founded Craft International, a firm that provided combat and weapons training to military, police, corporate and civilian clients.

Kyle is the co-author of another book, "American Gun - A History of the U.S. in Ten Firearms," which will be published in May.

(Reporting by Karen Brooks; Editing by Greg McCune and Leslie Adler)