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Blockbuster: the Story of 'American Sniper'

Aired February 23, 2015 - 21:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Biggest weekend ever for a film in January.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The American Sniper.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: The greatest war movie of our time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: $300 million.

BRADLEY COOPER, ACTOR & PRODUCER, "AMERICAN SNIPER": Hope I guess that we can educate those of us who aren't really familiar with the flight of a soldier and the soldier's family.

CHRIS KYLE, EX-NAVY SEAL: My only regrets are the guys I couldn't save. That's what keeps me up at night.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He knew he was serving a purpose, he knew he was saving lives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chris Kyle is now the target of not only glory but controversy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did he tell the whole truth?

JESSE VENTURA, FORMER MINNESOTA GOVERNOR: A propaganda film that is as authentic as dirty harry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Film maker Michael Moore called snipers cowards.

JEFF KYLE, CHRIS KYLE'S BROTHER: He was a protector, always has been from the time we were little.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the trial to the man accused of killing Kyle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The American Sniper success will impact jurors.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening I'm Alisyn Camerota along with Chris Cuomo. Tonight we look at the incredibly successful movie "American Sniper". It has smashed box office records and despite not winning the best picture award last night to be Oscars it is considered the most popular war movie in U.S. history.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESONDENT: The main reason is probably the man at the center, Former Navy SEAL Sniper, Chris Kyle. His war experience had perceived heroism in Iraq clearly resonating with millions and not just Americans. And then you have his murder at the hands of other veteran suffering from mental illness, a man Chris Kyle was trying to help. All of this taken together has the markings of a phenomenon and that is exactly what American Sniper become.

B. COOPER: I just want to get the bad guys, but if I can't see them, I can't shoot them.

CUOMO: The American movie that has become a national moment.

B. COOPER: I'm ready.

CUOMO: Clint Eastwood's American Sniper earned just one of the six academy awards. It was nominated for but it is the unquestioned champ at the box office. $400 million the highest grossing war film ever. It's Chris Kyle's story. The Navy SEAL, known as the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history at least 160 confirmed kills, over tours in Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ever think that you might have seen things or done some things over there that you wish you haven't?

B. COOPER: Well that's not me, no.


B. COOPER: I was just protecting my guys. The thing that haunts me are all the guys that I couldn't save.

CUOMO: And it is the story of what battles were fought by Kyle and others after the war that maybe deepening the film's impact.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... called snipers cowards.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Questions about the real-life sniper.

LEMON: It's a box office Bullseye.

CUOMO: Controversy has followed the lionizing of Kyle as a patriot and hero. Critic's questions celebrating a prodigious kill and say the movie paints a largely rosy picture of America's evasion of Iraq.

B. COOPER: Don't pick it up.

CUOMO: Fuel to the fire came in the familiar form of Michael Moore who galvanized military supported with this Tweet. "My uncle killed by sniper in World War II. We were taught snipers were coward, will shoot you in the back. Snipers aren't heroes. And invaders are worse."

The criticism started a debate, was Chris Kyle a hero or a coward?

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: The very freedom that Michael Moore has is a gift that's given to him by God and protected by a strong military.

BILL MAHER, HOST OF HBO'S "REAL TIME": This one is just American hero, he's a psychopath patriot and we love him.

CUOMO: Moore later clarified on Facebook. He hadn't been referring to the movie specifically in his Tweets.

SIENNA MILLER, ACTRESS: Your home? What are you doing?

B. COOPER: I guess I just needed a minute.

CUOMO: But there is a larger dynamic at play. Sniper explores Post- Dramatic Stress Disorder, PDSD, a largely underrepresented and underserved reality facing America's fighting men, women and their families.

B. COOPER: It's about the struggles that people go though being at war and being at home. Because more and more military vets are coming back and never before because of medical advancements and we have to take care of them.

CUOMO: Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield were killed in February 2013 by Edward Routh, while the men were at Texas gun range. The victims had been trying to help Routh, a U.S. veteran diagnosed with PTSD, a reminder of the human toll at the heart of this blockbuster, the lost of a hero and a painful demonstration of mental health plague affecting too many of American's warriors.

TAYA KYLE, CHRIS KYLE'S WIDOW: It sort of a picture of humanity and what we go through when we fight for something we believe in and are affected by it and then have to fight to find our way back to each other.

CAMEROTA: So who was Chris Kyle? Let's bring in Jeff Kyle, Chris' brother and a U.S. Marine. Scott McEwen, family friend and co-author of American Sniper. And retired Major General James "Spider" Marks, he assigned Chris Kyle to his first mission in Iraq. Gentlemen, thanks so much for being here. Jeff I want to start with you. I just saw the movie, yesterday, it is so powerful, so affecting and it's impossible not to think that your brother was just an appealing guy.

What do you think about Bradley Cooper's depiction of your brother, was he just like that?

JEFF KYLE, CHRIS KYLE'S BROTHER: He -- Cooper did a really good job. I think, you know, he captured most everything about Chris and put it in the movie.

CUOMO: Your bother was better looking though, let's be honest.

J. KYLE: Of course.

CUOMO: Cooper fell a little short.

J. KYLE: Right.

CUOMO: There's a scene in the movie you also serve, you're a veteran and thank you for your service. There is a scene in the movie not early on but when you're actually supposedly in theater and you run across each other. Did that ever really happened?

KYLE: No sir, no.

CUOMO: All right, so what was -- because he was suppose to be portraying, you know, you are four years younger and you were there, you were having a hard time in the war. That's how it's portrait.

J. KYLE: Right.

CUOMO: And then your brother comes. How was your relationship if your brother knew that you are having any kind of trouble there, what do you think he would have done?

J. KYLE: He would drop everything to do everything he could to come assist me, for sure, and vice-versa.

CAMEROTA: But did you two have philosophical discussion about the wars mission?

KYLE: We did. After every deployment then we would get together and that was our decompression time. You know, we use each other to decompress and we talk about our mission and talk about everything that was going on and, you know, help each other through everything.

CAMEROTA: Scott, I want to bring you in this movie has broken all sorts of records. It is a bonanza, the most popular American war movie ever, they call it. Why do you think it has stuck suck a core with the American public?

SCOTT MCEWEN, CO-AUTHOR, "AMERICAN SNIPER". Well, I want to say first of all, Jeff, its good to see you. You know, your brother really respected you, and loved you, and he made it very clear that you are very important part of his life as well. And haven't really have a chance to tell you that, but that scene in the movie was not from the book as you know, but I'll have my discussion with Jason about later.

Yeah, I think it's broken all record because of the fact that it really breaks down the experience of 100,000 of troops that have been into battle for this country for the last 13 years. I mean, a lot of people don't realize it, but we've had back to back deployments by people such as Chris and Jeff and others from our military for almost 14 years now in Afghanistan and Iraq.

And what we wanted to tell was not just the story of Chris but the story of all Americans and their families that have gone to war, come home and had to deal with the deployments and the things you have to deal with your family. And so, I think it struck a nerve with a lot of different people, not just because Chris was such a patriot and such as amazing individual, but also because the fact it's an experience that all of America is gone through and a lot of people know a lot of people that have been through very similar...

CUOMO: And it's a reality that you can't repeat enough. General, you know, the statistic about your sending him off on his mission or not. What was the reputation of the man and tell us why you do believe an echo what Scott says that there are a lot of soldier's stories that fit this mode (ph).

MAJ. GEN JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, there really are in means numbers of incredibly personal stories. Look, I did not known Chris Kyle, but I knew thousands of Chris Kyle's. The mission that he went on was really essentially started the war in Iraq. It was the gas oil platform on the Northern Gulf and we had to secure that. Our concern certainly was that Saddam was going to set it on fire. So the SEALs had that mission and Chris was on that team.

So this is very personal in a whole bunch of ways. It's quite in amazing story because I think what it does is it grabs the viewer and it puts him and her -- in this rather fulsome experience of combat and the in and out of combat. You're in combat then back home and how do you achieve some degree normality. And clearly, Chris struggled with it.

And I would argue that most veterans do when they come back from combat, because in combat you're so narrow and you're so deep. And the complication of living have just kind of been pushed and washed aside. And the real heroes are your brides that are left at home and your family members that have to deal with all of that while you fulfill you mission.

CAMEROTA: Jeff, you're nodding along as you listen to General Marks talk. What emotional was condition was Chris in when he came back from these tours?

J. KLYE: Yeah, he was just like the rest of us that came back. It took a toll on him, you know, to the outsider you couldn't tell. But to the family and, you know, to his close friends and his teammates, I mean, yeah, you know, because we all know we've been there. We know what he's struggling with. And, you know, I mean, we could tell. But...

CUOMO: So it did it helped you with each other like, you know, you may not want to deal with what was inside you but you saw it at him and vise versa especially as brothers?

J. KYLE: Right, right. Yeah, you know, and like I said before, you know, we would discuss everything after each deployment and we would compare how, you know, each other's deployments were and it would be comprised and I think that would help us get through to our next deployments.

CAMEROTA: There's this really affecting moment in the movie where another soldier tries to thank your brother for saving his life. Let's just play a little clip of that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you Chief Chris Kyle?

B. COOPER: Yes, Sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Mavs (ph). We met at Fallujah. You saved my life.

B. COOPER: I did?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes sir. We were stuck in the house, until you came in with first marines. You were the one that carried me out.

B. COOPER: Well the by the way the marines saved out lives plenty times. How are you? Are you all right? You're holding up?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great. I'm just grateful to be alive.


CAMEROTA: The movie makes the scene as though dozen uncomfortable moments for him. He doesn't really want to be thanked.

J. KYLE: He did because he wasn't doing it for the thank yous, you know. He did it because he cared about each and every one of the Americans over there. And, you know, about the citizens over there, you know, so he wasn't doing it for all the publicity. He wasn't doing it for the thank yous. He wasn't doing it to earn the name "The Legend."

You know, he did it because he actually cared and that's what his all mission was.

CUOMO: Scott, one of the challenges for you is to -- when you were writing the book is nobody sees themselves the way others do. And what was it do you think that Chris Kyle had to accept from the process of doing his story with you about himself that he may not wanted to, you know, inscribe to himself? What qualities of his did you have to convince him, yes this is you?

MCEWEN: Well I think that Chris was very unassuming and really not even the type of guy that would want to tell his stories outside of the fact that his teammates and everyone else express to me that this guys really was an amazing story and Chris got into it and started telling the different things that had take in place during his deployments and particularly in Fallujah and Ramadi where it was such a different time, not only for Chris but he SEALS and the marines such as Jeff, because it was really a mess.

And these guys were dropped in to the middle of a firefight everyday. And they really were living everyday almost like a Normandy or Iwo Jima or something to that nature because it was firefights that were constant, day after day after day. And I was amazed when I heard it and said, "Chris, I think this is historical, beyond the fact that you have the, you know, the most confirmed kills in United States' history. What you guys went through and what, you know, you lost with the lost of, you know, Ryan Job, you know, and Marc Lee should be told."

And I think as far as history is concerned, this is our times, you know, battle of Normandy Beach or battle to take the mountain, you know, Suribachi or whatever else and I felt like it was that historical that I really try to get him to talk about it or even because of the fact that I felt it was something that really generations to come should know about this generation of war fighter that were patriots such as Chris and the rest of those who fought for this country.

And I'm really happy that I was effective in finally getting him to do it and tell the story because the whole part of the coming home and the family think kind of came later. It started out first to be the story about his experiences with the men on the SEAL Team 3 Charlie and the others that he fought with from the marines and...


MCEWEN: ... I felt like it was very, very important that we got that down.

CAMEROTA: Scott, Jeff, stick around if you would. General Marks, thank you so much for being on it and your service and expertise. Thank you.

MARKS: My pleasure. Thanks guys.

CUOMO: All right, so we're talking about Chris Kyle and to who he was, so you got a better hand over that now. But what mattered to him, especially when he came home it is something that is also creating his movements of momentum. We're going to tell you what that was and why he cared so much.



BILL MAHER, HOST, REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER: Hurt Locker made 17 million because it was a little ambiguous and thoughtful, and this one is just American hero. He's a psychopath patriot, and we love him.


CUOMO: American Sniper glorifies war or simply shows one man's truth. You just heard talk show host Bill Maher slammed the movie was propaganda but he is not alone. So let's discuss the real deal here.

CAMEROTA: We are joined again by Jeff Kyle, Chris Kyle's brother and Scott McEwan, co-author of American Sniper. We're also joined by Sean Parnell, U.S. Army Ranger, friend of Chris Kyle and New York Times Best-selling Author of Outlaw Platoon. Gentlemen, thanks so much for being here.

Jeff, are you surprise by some of the controversy and push back that the movie has had?

J. KYLE: No. Not at all. You know those people are always -- there is always going to be nice haters out there. It doesn't matter who it is, it doesn't matter if it's Chris or if it somebody else. They are always going to say something derogatory about somebody else. So, you know, we did what we did for them to be able to...

CUOMO: Right.

J. KYLE: ... talk their trash, so you're welcome.

CUOMO: So you go with the hate is going to hate and you give them that right by fighting for the freedom.

Let me ask you a little bit different take on it. You're there over doing the mission. This is what you are told to do. Nobody asked you if you wanted do the mission once you volunteered. Nobody asked you to discuss the merits of the mission. Do you think that's a lost a little bit in this when people criticize the war of why we got in and how we did it, how long wind up putting the target on the fighting men and women for that criticism?

SEAN PARNELL, AUTHOR, OUTLAW PLATOON: Yeah, I think that's absolutely the case. I mean, if you watch American Sniper and you saw a political commentary on Iraq war or you saw, you know, a failed study on the intels surrounding a weapon of mass destruction that you are not seeing what most of American's warrior saw and that was in -- like a window into the heart of the Modern American war fighter, and it focuses on the struggle, not just on the battlefield but also at home which is critically important for Americans to understand what is like for veterans like Jeff and I and Chris to come on.

CAMEROTA: Scott, do you think that this is a pro-war movie, an antiwar movie? What is the message?

MCEWEN: Well, what I like about is the fact that you can't really tell. And it's just reality and that's what Clint, and Bradley, and Jason Hall did such a good job of this. You live it for what it is because as the truth, it tells the truth about the American experience and the soldier's experience.

And I wouldn't categorize it as anything more than to say that if you're going to send our men and women to battle, in foreign lands, then you better expect that there is going to be casualties taken and you better give them the resources to fight and win the wars.

And all I can say is that Chris and what Clint did with his story is to tell you, "This is what goes on." So America, we need to fight and defend this country. And if you're going to do it, then just be real about what happens when you do, do it and give our men and women the resources to win the battle.

CUOMO: And you have to be real...

MCEWEN: And I believe that's what this movie does a great job of.

CUOMO: And you have to be real with perspective on it. I mean, Mar (ph) is -- he's doing what he does. He's going for a hyperbole there and to make some outrage. Psychopath is not just inaccurate but it certainly insensitive.

So let's focus on Chris' own words. Put up the quote of what Chris have said that got him blowback and I want some context from it, from those who know him, OK? This is obviously about the number of kills, "The number is not important to me. I only wish I had killed more. Not for bragging rights, but because I believe the world is a better place without savages out there taking American lives."

Now, how can people take that? They can take that as you think all Iraqis are savages. You see, he's a bigot. Do you think that's a fair reckoning of the statement?

J. KYLE: No, no. You know, I mean, it doesn't matter where you're at or where you're in. Yes, our era, they were Iraqis or Afghanis, you know. So yes, you have to have a certain hate for those people because they're trying to kill you. If you don't have that certain hatred for them, you're not going to come home.

Any other war, the Vietnam War, those men over there, they had a hatred for the Vietnamese and they had to. You know, that's just what we do.

PARNELL: Yeah, exactly. And I don't think Chris was referring to the Iraqi people there.

J. KYLE: No.

PARNELL: I think he was referring to the enemy that we face. And look, they are. I mean, when I was in Afghanistan, Jeff was deployed to Iraq, we fought against an enemy that throw grenades in the cradle of new born babies.

We fought against an enemy that beheaded children, that stoned women to death. We fought against an enemy that didn't want women going to school or they didn't want women to be educated. We fought against an enemy that gulps the eyes out of little kids and knock their teeth out so that they will be more pleasurable in bed.

This enemy is evil and the world is a better place without them. And Chris knew and understood that. The interesting thing about Chris is that he had the purest form of patriotism and love of country that I've ever seen in my entire life and it was contagious. And I think that we need more people like that in this nation.

CUOMO: Jeff, what message do you think your brother would have wanted to come out of the film?

J. KYLE: I think the message that everybody's received, it wasn't him in that movie. Every parent, every brother, every sister can put their sibling or their child in that position and see what they went through while they're in the country and then why they were -- who they were when they came home. You know, they weren't their little child anymore when they came home. War changes people.

So I think this movie actually, it shows that, you know, it's not just Chris's story, it's every warrior out there that's ever been in combat that's been in country and then come home. It's all of us.

CAMEROTA: Sean Parnell, Scott McEwen and Jeff Kyle, just great to meet you. Thank you so much for sharing...

J. KYLE: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: ... your story of your brother with us. We really appreciate that.

J. KYLE: Thank you all.

CAMEROTA: The Hollywood drama playing out in a real life Texas court in the trial of Eddie Ray Routh. And how might this sci-fi clip prove that Routh was sane enough to try to act insane.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm talking about a pig-man

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I walk into the wrong room and there he was.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A pig-man, half pig, half man.


CAMEROTA: Well, discuss that next.


CUOMO: The American sniper murder trial is extraordinary on many levels for example it speed, both the prosecution and the defense wrapping up their main cases just over a week.

CAMEROTA: And at the heart of this case is Eddie Ray Routh's mental health. CNN, Ed Lavandera tells us all the conflicting factors that jurors must consider.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Far from the red carpets of Hollywood a Texas jury will soon decide how to punish the confess killer of the now Legendary Navy SEAL Chris Kyle.

But here Eddie Ray Routh is the lead character in the real life drama of the American sniper trial. Defense lawyers have painted the picture of Routh as psychotic paranoid and schizophrenic, since opening statements.


LAVANDERA: Psychiatrist Mitchell Dunn detailed Routh's journey through psychiatric treatment. July 2011 he's diagnosed with psychotic disorder and PTSD. The next month, another hospital state, "Once again doctors say he shows signs of psychosis." In September 2012, Routh is diagnosed as having major depressive disorder with psychotic features. And January 2013, just a week before the murders, doctors say he's paranoid and psychotic. The psychiatrist says Rough believes some of his co-workers at cabinet shop were cannibals and also feared pigs were talking over the world.

The prosecutors have brought two psychiatric experts to discredit the severity of Routh's trouble. They paint a picture of Routh as immature, drug addict desperate of attention, not someone who is insane, but someone who suffers from a personality disorder.

Routh often describe Kyle and Littlefield is half pig, half men hybrids. A prosecution psychiatrist says the T.V. shows Seinfeld inspire that talk.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just saw a pig-man.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, he was sleeping and then he woke up and he looked at me and he made this horrible sound.


LAVANDERA: The psychiatrist says Routh while held jail likely saw this Seinfeld episode where the character Kramer becomes obsessed who seen a half man, half pig patient running around the hospital. Prosecutors argue Routh was in a substance induced psychotic state filled by marijuana abuse.

They say the video of Routh confusing on the day of the killing proves he knew what he was doing was wrong and he did it anyway. His family, mother and sister and girlfriend have detailed what they believe was the former marine's downward spiral into insanity.


LAURA BLEVINS, EDDIE RAY ROUTH'S SISTER: He said that he killed two guys, they went out to a shooting range and he...


LAVANDERA: Routh's sister who called 911 that day told jurors the person who came to my house is not the man who I knew was my brother. And then she recalled telling him I love you but I hate your demons.

LAURA BELL, AUTHOR, "THE ENEMY WITHIN": They were watching and declined that they could not stop despite everything that they were trying to do. They couldn't stop.

LAVANDERA: The question now is which experts will the "American Sniper" trial jury believe? Ed Lavandera, CNN Stephenville, Texas.


CUOMO: All right so you have what's going to matter and why and then how it all be brought together in closing arguments. Let's bring in CNN Legal Analyst Paul Callan and HLN Legal Analyst Joey Jackson.

So we just heard there about the expert but fundamentally it's going to be which rationale makes the most since unto these facts. Paul, the idea of Seinfeld, was that -- there's a parlor trick or do you think that there is really something instructed there for prosecution?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No, there is something instructed there because they say they had evidence that this Seinfeld episode involving the pig-man and another reality show provided sort of a map for him and he makes a lot of pig references.

So I think prosecutors are trying to show this is a guy who can plan. He learns things from television and that's why later on he would say, "I'm schizophrenic" and he was trying to prepare his insanity defense, in other words, in advance.

CAMEROTA: So Joey, this is a case of conflicting experts. Both sides have had medical experts, one who says that Eddie Ray Routh was in psychotic episode and one who says he was faking it. How are jurors suppose to figure it out?

JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: You know every interesting but not surprising because generally speaking you have the prosecution experts who are saying he knew right from wrong and then of course you have the defenses who say he has no idea. That's not uncommon in a case.

And so they may and (inaudible) each other out. And what do they then left with that is the jury. They left with determining the other issues in this case that they have to evaluate the behavior of Routh, right, before hand and his mental health history. So then they're going to (inaudible) to do that as the jury piece to gather. If there was a mental health history here which there was.

CAMEROTA: Was, yeah.

JACKSON: And we know that Routh was in and out of psychiatric hospitals. How did that affect him? We know that his mother pleaded with the V.A. eight days before, "Don't let him out. He's not ready." Yet she did. We know that Routh held his girlfriend captive, right?

CUOMO: We (inaudible) to soon. That's the case that they're going to make and I want to you make that enclosure, but let's just deal with the elements of it here, because it seems that the gamble here is, Paul, is that for the prosecution, is that you're saying he was faking it.


CUOMO: But there is so much evidence that he is not faking it, right?

CALLAN: But there's one important concept here and that's there's a major difference between severe mental illness and legal insanity.

Legal insanity is such a rare thing and it doesn't matter how insane you are medically. You have to be able to prove you didn't understand the wrongness of your act when you did something wrong. Now, a lot of people with severe mental illness have all of the symptoms of schizophrenia or psychosis but they know when they're doing something wrong. In here, that's what prosecutors are going to say and there's a second thing that goes on insanity cases.

Now, I've looked at a whole bunch of them. I think that when jurors hear this stuff, the judges charge it, it's so complicated. You know one set psych saying he is crazy. You have another set saying that he is not.

Jurors look at the case and say, "You know something, is he a threat to me or my family if I found him not guilty by the reason of insanity?" When they look at Eddie Ray Routh, is he a general threat to the public? I don't have to say, yes he is, because although he shot Kyle and Littlefield, it's sort of not because they were celebrities but for a lot of other reasons.

CAMEROTA: Joey, do you agree with that assessment?

JACKSON: How was in the reality is that that a jury has a job to do and that is, is it more likely they're not. This is not who done the case now, so we know who done it. What motivated you to do? What is the issue? Well when you look at that, all of the defense needs to do is show, is it more likely or less likely that he was insane?

And I think based upon the mental health history, based upon Routh and his conduct and his actions, and cannibals, and pigs, and hybrids, and all of his actions, who goes to Taco Bell to eat after you kill someone. Things don't make sense. So the juries are going to evaluate this and say, "You know what, did he knew right, did he knew wrong?" Tough question but I think it's a close call in this case.

CAMEROTA: Gentlemen, stick around because coming up, closing arguments could come at any time. So what do lawyers need to say to make their case? What do jurors need to hear? We'll discuss who has the upper hand in the closing, next.


CAMEROTA: Closing arguments could be a key to a Texas jury deciding whether Eddie Routh was legally insane or aware of wrong doing when he shot Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield. What do both sides need to do to make their case? Let's discuss that with Joey Jackson and Paul Callan.

CUOMO: All right Joey, the defense goes first, you play the defense.

Here are two big points. One, the first big point is for the defense. This is that Eddie Ray Routh was consistently deluded, right, indicating insanity. All of the different crazy things that you are going to tell me about, in the second. The second point is, remember who he is and what he did. He is a veteran. He was in Iraq and Haiti and that changed him and cause mental illness. How will they sum it up?

JACKSON: Major points here and here is why. For us to understand what he did that day and taking two lives we have to understand who he is a person and what he went through. So let's begin with the fact that he served this country in Iraq.

The reality is that his mom described him -- his family described him as a happy go lucky person. He now then goes and served his country and he may not have been in combat in Iraq but certainly you see things there that are not normal, as he did here.

He then goes and he serves in a humanitarian mission in Haiti where he's moving bodies. That changed them. Why? Because we know that when he came back, he was then described as very suicidal and it's not only in the script, because we don't have to only rely upon family and those who know him. We could rely upon the actual facts. And what are those? He was in and out getting psychiatric treatment.

We know that he was in a mental institution. We know he went voluntarily. We also know that he was simply (ph) committed against his will. And at that time, there was a psychosis, the grip of psychosis.

We're talking about hallucinating. We're talking about schizophrenia. We're talking about a person who's on medication. And then you move to the facts of the case and you look at the statement he is making about cannibals, about eating flesh, about how his neighbors in the Mexican cartel. Everyone is out to get him.

He is seeing flying pigs, they're half human, they're half people. You know what? The reality is, this is a person who clearly cannot distinguish between right from wrong. As a result of that, he is legally insane.

CAMEROTA: Paul, you're the prosecutor, here are the points of the prosecution is going to make. First, Eddie Ray Routh's confession. He admitted that what he did was wrong. He expressed remorse. Then, next thing, also Texas is very unusual. Their standard, the legal definition of insanity (ph) is easy to satisfy. Go.

CALLAN: Eddie Ray Routh knew what he did was wrong for a very simple reason. He killed two American heroes.

You know, Chad Littlefield and Kyle were -- they were people who had their lives taking away by a man who actually had thought about planned and plotted this.

Remember, the psychiatrist who testified in the case indicated that he had picked up some ideas from television programming about how to do the homicide. And we also know that when he actually committed the act and talk to the police, he constantly expressed remorse, constantly saying that he was wrong in doing what he did.

And one very important thing to remember, the law says that if you become voluntarily intoxicated with drugs or alcohol and it makes your mental illness more severe, that's not legal insanity. There's a book by the way that outlines insane conditions. It's the psychiatrist DSMB. It's almost a thousand pages long.

The law has one provision. It says, if you understand the wrongfulness or rightfulness of your act, you're not legally insane.

I submit that on this fact pattern, he knew what he was doing was wrong and he took two human lives and it's time for the jury to check off the right box on the jury verdict for.

CAMEROTA: Gentlemen, excellent closing arguments.

CUOMO: I'll tell you what, they're skilled attorney. This is a tough one for the jury, there's so much pulling at them and there is no question. That aside from the law, "American Sniper" highlights a major battle, our troops and their families continue to fight when they come home.

And that is battle against posttraumatic stress.

We have Veteran War Correspondent Bob Woodruff. He's looking for a solution and you're going to be surprised what he has to say about that challenge.



B. COOPER: The thing that haunts me are all the guys that I couldn't save. Now, I'm willing and able to be there but I'm not. I'm here. I quit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now you can walk down in the hall in this hospital. I got plenty of soldiers needs saving. You want to take a walk.

B. COOPER: Sure.


CUOMO: That's the moment in American Sniper when Chris Kyle decides to dedicate his life to mentoring veteran, especially those suffering with posttraumatic stress. Now the film's popularity and the upcoming trial of the Iraq war vet accuse of killing Kyle and his friend had put PTS back in the spotlight.

CAMEROTA: So let's talk about it and let's bring in the experts, Heidi Kraft is a former Navy Clinical Psychologist and Author of "Rule Number Two, Lessons I Learned in a Combat Hospital." Brandon Webb is a former Navy SEAL who helped train Chris Kyle. He is the author of "Among Heroes," and Bob Woodruff is an ABC News Anchor and Co-founder of the Bob Woodruff Foundation. He was hit be a road side bomb in 2006 while reporting on the Iraq war.

It's great to have all of you here for this discussion. I want to start with you Brandon because you have a fascinating job. You were the head instructor in the Navy Seal Sniper Program that trained Chris Kyle. And I'm wondering, is there a particular personality type that lends itself to becoming a sniper?

BRANDON WEBB, FORMER NAVY SEAL: I think the guy that really excel as an sniper have an ability to really manage stress and make complex decisions under pressure and we look for those candidates. And like you and I were talking earlier before the segment, we put them in situations artificially induce very high level of stress to see who has it and who doesn't.

CAMEROTA: And do you think that that somehow is a buffer against PTS when they come home?

WEBB: I think the Special Operations Community as a whole has a much lower rate of frequency of guys that don't deal with PTSD effectively and we just -- they show up to training and make it through because they have an ability to deal with adverse situations. And especially as a sniper, we look for those individuals who have those characteristics that can really deal with some terrible situations and be able to make these decisions very quickly and make complex calculations for win and lead and sometimes even the spin of the earth will factor into the shots at a longer distance.


CUOMO: But functioning, dealing, those two things while very usually, are not coping. And Bob, you and I have known each other a long time. You have taken this very seriously for a long time. What have you seen in terms of whether you're a sniper or whether you're a cook, what happens for fighting men and women when they come back home and how it would affects their family? What have you seen?

BOB WOODRUFF, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: A lot of this is what they saw, that they lived through, absolutely, what kind of trauma was it that trigger it off. And then this transition when you go from this -- a very different world of fighting on the war. We don't really know where are the so called enemies are or where the weapons are. It kind of creates a stress and especially from these multiple deployments that all of ours that have served have gone through.

But a lot of it depends on that transition, because they're going from a world where they get closed with their unit. They've got -- Everyday they know pretty much what they're going to do then you come back in this gigantic world that spread out. And a lot of times you don't know what to do. But I think most of us link back to the kind of trauma that you lived through and then suddenly, you know, in a brand new world as difficult to deal with.

CAMEROTA: Heidi, in the movie, "America Sniper," it makes it seem as though Chris Kyle did come back with PTS and that he was depressed but then that he sort of found his calling by helping other soldiers who were suffering with PTS and is that realistic? Can you come home and recover from PTS and sort of put it behind you?

HEIDI SQUIER KRAFT, FRMR. NAVY CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Absolutely. There is no doubt about that. We have treatment for all kinds of trauma both PTSD and everything on that continuum of symptoms that we know are very effective to help people.

And for many of my patients and others who have gone through this kinds of situations, helping others and feeling like they are able to give back to their community and other people who might be in similar situations, it's really helpful and it gives a great feeling of hope and looking forward and feeling like there is a greater sense of their being and what they're all about.

CUOMO: You have can versus do there, right? And then do has two different layers. The first is, are ready? Can you handle it? Do you want to admit it? Especially these types of men and women, who already feel like they've put too much on their families, little on add another layer of now, I still have things to (inaudible), you went back home. And then it's whether the system takes care of them. Let's unpack that.

How hard is it for someone to say, "I can't handle this. There's something I can't handle?"

WEBB: Well I don't think that's a problem but at -- to Heidi's point and to your point, I think that the national conversation around PTS is to change to one of more positive solution based approach. I hear lots of complaining about the Department of Veterans Affairs and I think that's why myself and a lot of fellow veterans really take matter into their own hands. We started the foundation like Bob's Foundation to really change the way that we set, a positive example to these transitioning veterans.

We had a thing in the cyber program. We took our -- the way that we used to coach and teach from a very negative approach to a positive approach. And once we started changing the philosophy of the program, we saw a 30 percent of failure rate go down to less than 3 percent. So that did work.

CUOMO: And you've seen that too. You've seen that with the foundation. When you give the resources, when you make sure people know that there are people who are there for them, that they have a network, what kind of changes is missing?

WOODRUFF: Well one of them I think, you know, as Heidi mentioned that sometimes it's difficult or you said that there is -- it's difficult for people sometimes to talk about it in the beginning, that has completely changed overtime.

You know, that getting over this stigma, it was considered to be kind of unmanly to come back and say you've PTSD. I think we've also overtime looked at the PTSD differently but the fact, that I think all of us don't really call it PTSD anymore. We take off the D, it's not a disorder.

CUOMO: Get rid of the disorder.

WOODRUFF: They don't want it to be a disorder necessarily. And also it -- and it does really matter the kind of PTS you get when you're fighting in a war versus you've witnessed one of your friend's child died right here in New York or something. It's the same kind of PTS and I think that's one of the things that change overtime.

In different ways, I think when we've seen in the beginning, we are really caring about those in ICU, those who were, you know, just injured and then we started help them when they go back to their community because nobody really no many veterans in their neighborhood because we got just about 1 percent of Americans are serving in this war compared to previous wars that we had.

And now we're really looking at -- as you've said veterans helping veterans, which is exactly what you're doing because those had been incredibly efficient and effective to do this. You know, service dogs and you get someone of these guys to come back and trained, service dogs to help others that's helping them too.

I have a good friend of ours who's done the same thing and we've back and he just -- he's not even taking the drugs that he was taking before to deal with his POINTS, because now he's training these dogs to help some of his friends. So it's working well now, and it's getting better as time goes on.

CAMEROTA: Heidi, the movie did a good job of also depicting just the trauma with the family back at home, goes through while they're worried about the soldier overseas. What help if there for them?

KRAFT: There are certainly are many programs that are trying to reach out to our families but this is more difficult of course, because it's harder to know where they are at any given time. I think there is a greater understanding now when we talk about PTS or PTSD sort of how trauma can actually be spread across terrible and horrible things happening into someone you love as well. And that can still lead to those symptoms.

So we are I think having a greater understanding now about all the people who might be involved in that soldier, marine, sailor, airman's experience and making sure that they are all sort of included when we talk about that picture.

As a clinician, I certainly -- I'm always asking about the family. I want to know about everyone who might be affected by the experiences that my patient might have experienced.

CUOMO: And people who want to help also and that's why it's great to have people writing and being, you know, clinical the way Heidi is and for you two gentlemen the work that you do with your organizations. And Bob, you know, I just loved what you do and that makes a difference because you're helping the right people. So thank you for helping us get the message out as well.

CAMEROTA: It's great to hear about all the progress being made. Thank you so much for being here.



CAMEROTA: Well some closing thoughts on "American Sniper", right after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CAMEROTA: American Sniper is the highest grossing war movie in U.S. history. Chris Kyle story has thoroughly struck cord with millions of people. Some call it war propaganda, others believe the film is patriotic not political and it serves to celebrate the bravery of our men and women in uniform.

CUOMO: And yet the movie itself probably isn't what matter most, it's what remains, the families, the missing moms and dads, sons and daughters and the battles that continue when they come home especially the plague of PTS.

So if you want you can forget the politics of the film but please do not forget what matters the most, helping our troops. And thank you for watching.

CNN Tonight with Don Lemon begins right now.