Erath County District Attorney Alan Nash and defense attorney Warren St. John held oral arguments last week in front of three justices after an appeal was filed by Eddie Ray Routh.
Routh was sentenced to life without parole after killing American Sniper Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield at Rough Creek Lodge on Feb. 2, 2013.
The arguments took place in Eastland County where the Eleventh Court of Appeals court is located. The Eleventh District covers much of West Texas spanning from Erath County all the way to Midland.
“The court is an intermediate court of appeals. An appeal to the court is a matter of right,” Nash wrote in an email. “If a party is dissatisfied with a ruling of the Eastland Court of Appeals, he may petition the Court of Criminal Appeals in Austin to review the case (by discretionary, not automatic, review).”
St. John was speaking in support of the appeal, Nash opposing it.
“Each side had 15 minutes to speak and answer questions from the three justices,” Nash said. “The primary tools used by the justices are the parties’ written briefs. The written briefs provide detailed factual and legal explanations for each party’s position.”
According to the lengthy document, Routh’s point of appeal relates to the insanity plea in that, Routh did not know what he was doing was wrong.
“Appellant appears to presume that he met his burden, as a matter of law, to establish that he suffered from a severe mental disease or defect,” the document states. “And to establish a casual relationship between that presumed mental disease or defect and his failure to know that his conduct was wrong.”
The document continues on about the insanity plea, stating, “The question for deciding insanity becomes as follows: Does the defendant factually know that society considers this conduct against the law, even though the defendant, due to his mental disease or defect, may think that the conduct is morally justified? If the accused know that his conduct is ‘illegal’ by societal standards, then he understands that his conduct is wrong, even if, due to a mental disease or defect, he thinks his conduct is morally justified.”
The brief goes on to detail everything presented in the case along with testimonies of the various doctors who interviewed Routh.
“The State urges this Court, after reviewing the record and considering the arguments and authorities of the parties, to find that the judgement of the trial court should be affirmed in all things,” the document states followed by Nash’s signature.
An appeal can take 12-18 months from the time it was filed until the Court of Appeals makes a decision, however, in some cases an appeal can last for many years.