DALLAS – With a trial set to begin next week for the man accused in the fatal shootings of famed Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and a friend of Kyle’s, court officials in Texas are set to begin the process of screening potential jurors.
Candidates are to begin reporting Thursday to district court in the small town of Stephenville, about 80 miles southwest of Fort Worth. They'll be deciding the case of former Marine Eddie Ray Routh, 27, who’s charged with capital murder in the killings two years ago at a gun range outside of Stephenville.
Here are some details about how the process to select the jury will work:
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About 500 people are expected to report to court to get information on juror qualifications and potential exemptions on Thursday and Friday. Four sessions will be held over the course of the two days to accommodate all of the potential jurors. Erath County District Clerk Wanda Pringle said she does not yet know whether attorneys on those days will choose to give potential jurors a questionnaire containing questions specifically related the Routh case. Jury selection is set for Monday and Tuesday. Opening statements are expected Wednesday.
A LARGE POOL
Pringle says that instead of a typical jury pool of 175, about 800 were summoned. Of them, about 300 have been eliminated, including people who are exempt and others whose summons were mailed to the wrong address.
INTEREST IN THE TRIAL
The trial is expected to garner international attention. The court has already issued an extensive list of rules related to media coverage and police have issued information on road closures when the trial starts. The Oscar-nominated movie “American Sniper,” based on Kyle’s memoir of the same name starring Bradley Cooper, was recently released. Kyle served four tours in Iraq before retiring from the military in 2009.
Routh, who struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder after leaving the Marines in 2010, had served as a small arms technician in the Iraq war and was deployed to earthquake-ravaged Haiti on a relief mission. Kyle took Routh to the shooting range at a luxury resort in the rolling countryside outside of Stephenville after Routh’s mother asked if Kyle could help her son. Routh’s attorney has said he'll pursue an insanity defense.