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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 02/24/15

Guests: Brian Wice, Michael Snipes

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Rachel, you should have seen me on my sled on Capitol Hill when I worked in Washington. Those snow days, that was the most fun. RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Snow disks. I know, man. Take it easy. O`DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel. MADDOW: Thanks. O`DONNELL: Well, Mitch McConnell has a new strategy to end the standoff over the funding of Department of Homeland Security and, of course, Republicans don`t like it. And Hillary Clinton did a wide-ranging interview tonight. Also, tonight, a Texas jury is deliberating right now. They are deciding the fate of Eddie Ray Routh, the man who killed the real American sniper, Chris Kyle. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: It`s really sad to see the gamesmanship, the -- I don`t know what to call it, the silliness. JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I can`t find nibble who thinks it`s a good idea to shut down the Department of Homeland Security. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Congress races against the clock to avoid a partial shutdown. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The standoff that threatens to shut down Homeland Security at the end of this week. SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: This bill removes excuses, it sets up a simple political equation. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered a vote on a funding bill without immigration measures. SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: The problem is, everybody, I`m waiting to hear from the speaker. SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: We need a commitment from Speaker Boehner. SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Where`s the House? Where`s Speaker Boehner? REID: I`m waiting to hear from the speaker. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The jury is about to get the case in the "American Sniper" trial. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two weeks of testimony from three dozen witnesses boils down to this. Was Routh insane or deliberate when he shot Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield at a Texas gun range two years ago? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fiery moments just after impact sent panicked passengers scrambling for their lives in a metro linked train coming from Ventura County into L.A. hit the truck on the tracks. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It makes me wonder, what is the next story? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Alaska became the third state to legalize the use of recreational marijuana. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Republican Congressman Aaron Schock is now under fire for his office spending. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rudy Giuliani, I don`t know if you saw this, Rudy Giuliani published an op-ed in "The Wall Street Journal" today. JON STEWART, THE DAILY SHOW: If you`re a New Yorker, you may remember him as the mayor who replaced all your porn and drugs with M&M`s. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, Rudy, of course, President Obama loves America. He has to. Being president of the United States is the worst job in the world even if you love America. STEWART: Here`s what`s crazy. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You get paid less than middle relief pitcher, everyone blames you for everything and you have to live in a house with literally no security. (END VIDEOTAPE) O`DONNELL: The spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security is what they call a must-pass bill in the Congress. It must pass, because the alternative is unthinkable. The alternative is allowing the Homeland Security Department to partially shut down, which, in the age of terror, is unthinkable. So goes the political thinking in Washington. Must-pass bills have always been hard to resist for mischief makers. If one party attaches something that the other party hates to a must-pass bill, the party that hates that thing might still have to vote for it because it`s attached to a must-pass bill. No one can be caught voting against a must-pass bill. That`s always been the rule about must-pass bills, but that dynamic no longer works in the 21st century. Democrats have been happily voting against this must-pass bill, because it undoes President Obama`s executive orders on immigration. Naive Senate strategists like newcomer Ted Cruz think they can just force Democrats to vote for the bill with the provision that Democrats Hate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell knows better and so he wants to give up and clearly give up this hopeless attempt to pass the Department of Homeland Security spending bill that guts the president`s orders on immigration, because Mitch McConnell knows that the Democrats in the Senate are going to continue to filibuster, and even if for some reason the Democrats relented and let it pass, President Obama would then veto it. So, Mitch McConnell now wants to do what any reasonable majority leader in the Senate would do in that situation, separate the two issues, vote on a clean spending bill from the Department of Homeland Security, and then separately vote on a standalone bill that would kill the funding for the president`s executive orders on immigration. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MCCONNELL: I don`t know what`s not to like about this. This is an approach that respects both points of view and gives senators an opportunity to go on record on both, both funding the Department of Homeland Security and expressing their opposition to what the president did last November. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: We`re going to have to break this. We have breaking news from Texas. We have a verdict in the trial of Eddie Ray Routh, who has been accused of murdering -- control room, tell me who is joining us now? We`re joined by Brian Wice from Texas. Brian, what can you tell us? BRIAN WICE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I think at this point, without knowing what the verdict is, I think the consensus would appear to be it`s probably a one word verdict. It`s probably guilty of capital murder, which, of course, Lawrence, you know, carries an automatic life sentence without the possibility of parole. If, in fact, that`s what it is, it`s not surprising considering that juries in drunk-driving cases sometimes seem to be out longer than the jury in this case. I think when all was said and done, this Erath County jury determined that this wasn`t a young man caught in the grip of psychosis, but rather a cold blooded assassination. O`DONNELL: And, Brian, it seems that the jury deliberated probably for about an hour and a half, possibly even less. But it is a relatively simple fact base. There`s nothing to contend about the facts. The issue was just -- was he legally insane or not. WICE: And, Lawrence, you`re right. Like the prosecutor Jane Starnes told this jury early on, this is not a whodunit, this is a why on earth did he do it? Whether you accepted the reality put forth by the defense, every crime is a tragedy. Every tragedy is not a crime. This is a young man who could not understand the difference between right and wrong, or the prosecution`s narrative which I believe this jury is going to embrace, that this again was a cold blooded assassination, and the fact that this young man may have had mental issues did not mean that when he pulled the trigger, he could understand the difference between right and wrong. And, Lawrence, we know that`s the test for sanity in the great state of Texas. O`DONNELL: We`re joined by Charles Hadlock, who`s NBC News producer, he`s been covering the trial in Texas outside the courtroom in Stephenville. Charles, one of the interesting things today in the closing arguments was that the defense attorney very specifically suggested to the jury that a hung jury is a possibility, that it is possible for them not to come to an agreement. That`s the one thing we know hasn`t happened. CHARLES HADLOCK, NBC NEWS PRODUCER: That`s correct. He did try to float that possibility. Of course, he also said at the same time, there is no reason to turn in a guilty verdict, because we know that he`s guilty. It`s -- is it a matter of him being sane or insane at the time? And that is the key question. They argued nine days of testimony throughout this trial that he was insane at the time of the trial. That he was suffering from a psychosis that led him to kill the two men who were trying to help him. The state says that is hogwash is what they called it today. They said that this man had marijuana and alcohol problems, and was high at the time of the killings. And being intoxicated at the time of a crime does not amount to insanity. And they wanted the jury to find him guilty of killing two men by shooting them in the back. O`DONNELL: Charles, is there kind of a courthouse consensus on what the expected outcome is here? HADLOCK: Not really. If you talk to a wide range of people, some people are on the fence saying he does seem like he has some mental problems. Maybe he should be found insane. But the key in this case, was he insane at the time of the crime, and did he know at the time of the crime that his actions were wrong. That is the key in this case. The jury will have to decide that, and they obviously have decided something. We`ll find out here shortly. O`DONNELL: Brian, what do you think was probably the key element here for the prosecution in their final arguments today? WICE: Lawrence, if I had to find the final piece of the puzzle, as in many cases, it`s probably, in my mind, the defendant`s own words. I know that the jury during the state`s rebuttal portion heard a phone call between the defendant and a reporter from "The New Yorker" magazine, and in that call, the jury could pretty much figure out that the remorse, the regret, the guilt that Eddie Ray Routh felt in the commission of this offense was tantamount to acknowledging what he was doing was wrong. And that`s we see in so many cases that the six favorite words for any prosecutor to hear: your honor, we call the defendant. O`DONNELL: Brian, it indicates he knew what he did was wrong. But the question is that present tense moment at the commission of the crime, did he know it then? WICE: As we said on the show anybody who`s ever -- (CROSSTALK) WICE: -- Jack McCoy on "Law and Order", recognizes, as your viewers do, that you can form intent to kill in an instant. If at the time he pulled the trigger, he could understand the difference between right and wrong, whether he was coming in and out of this psychotic state, really doesn`t matter much. And again, it will be interesting to see what happens when these 12 good folks from Erath County tell the world what they already know -- Lawrence. O`DONNELL: Charles Hadlock, what is the judge`s rules on the reading of the verdict in the courtroom? He has allowed video but he has not allowed audio to come out of the courtroom? HADLOCK: He will allow audio and video to come out for the verdict. He allowed audio and video for the opening statements. But throughout the trial, for testimony and closing arguments, he would only allow the video to be recorded without audio. Now, at the end of this trial, there will be a punishment phase, if he`s found guilty. And immediately after that, we`ll be able to play some of the audio that happened during the trial. Those are the rules he set forth. And immediately after the punishment phase, they`ll go into a victim`s impact statement. One person, a relative, has signed up to speak to the court. We will not be able to show you that. We won`t even be allowed to record the audio of that. We`ll only be able to hear it in the courtroom and then the overflow room and report it only in written word -- Lawrence. O`DONNELL: Charles, do we know which relative that is? HADLOCK: We don`t know. It could be Taya. It could be another relative. It could be Chris Kyle`s brother or maybe a Littlefield family member. We just don`t know yet. They haven`t told us. O`DONNELL: So, Charles, it`s only one relative for each of the victims in this killing? HADLOCK: All we`re told is that one victim -- one person was going to come forward for the victim impact statement. That`s all we know. We believe it`s a family member. It also has to be a family member to give an impact statement. We just don`t know who it is yet. O`DONNELL: We`re joined now by Michael Snipes. He`s a former Dallas County criminal district court judge. He`s a current defense attorney. Judge Snipes, we just heard from Charles Hadlock what will happen after the verdict in this case. Can you give us a timetable for that? MICHAEL SNIPES, FORMER JUDGE, DALLAS COUNTY: Well, he discussed something called a punishment phase, but that`s slightly incorrect. There`s not going to be a punishment phase in the sense of testimony coming in, because if there`s a verdict of guilty, then the sentence is automatically life without parole. The victim impact part of the case, just to clarify this for our audience, can be as many as one or five or more victims, and all of that is not actually on the record and it`s a very private time for the family, which the judge has quite a deal of discretion over. O`DONNELL: Judge Snipes, if there`s a guilty verdict here, the sentence is automatic life without parole and no details to it at all, it`s just that. SNIPES: That`s exactly right. Actually, I had several of those types of cases myself. It was all done at one time. The guilty verdict was rendered, then I would immediately pass the sentence almost contemporaneously. O`DONNELL: I mean, it`s hard to see the point of any other process when you have an automatic sentence. And, Judge Snipes, why would an automatic sentence, would they go to the point of including victim impact statements? SNIPES: Well, it`s a statute in the state of Texas and it`s to allow the family to have closure, basically. It`s something that`s done for the victims of crime. It`s done to allow them to get over what`s happened basically. O`DONNELL: If there`s only one of those victim impact statements to be made, is it conceivable that could be done tonight also? SNIPES: Well, I was surprised that the judge allowed deliberations to go on into the evening. Certainly that`s within his discretion. So, if he was willing to do that, I would say that there`s a very good possibility that the victim impact statements would be tonight. O`DONNELL: So, Judge Snipes, you could see this entire proceeding being wrapped up in its entirety tonight? SNIPES: It appears to me that`s what is going to happen. O`DONNELL: OK. Brian Wice, the defense attorney, in a way that was quite clear today, basically suggested to the jury very clearly that a hung jury was a possibility here. He said you can find him guilty, you can find him not guilty by reason of insanity, and you might also just not be able to agree. He says, if you`re back there and eight of you are for one way and four for the other way, the law contemplates that you try to talk it out and come to some kind of unanimous agreement. But sometimes, you can`t. That`s just all there is to it. You can`t get to a unanimous verdict and that`s okay, too. That happens in criminal cases. That`s about as plain a request for a hung jury as I`ve heard. WICE: It`s standard fair in the criminal defense attorney playbook. And what prosecutors try to do when a defense attorney advances that argument is to tell the jury, folks, they want you to get a divorce and y`all aren`t even on the honeymoon yet. I mean, it`s something that makes sense as a defense attorney because sometimes, that`s the best that you can ultimately hope for. But again, given the way the system shaped out in this case, given the fact that the state had the last word, which Judge Snipes will tell you is a very powerful element in the criminal justice system, I don`t think we`re going to necessarily be surprised if this jury comes back with a verdict of guilty. O`DONNELL: Charles Hadlock, in the final statements, it did come down to an argument among doctors, an argument about the psychiatric opinions of the defendant. Was there any hint that some aspects of this were landing stronger than others? HADLOCK: No, it was really a battle between the psychiatrists, one psychiatrist for the prosecution said he was not a psychotic killer, that he was basically high at the time of the killings. And the psychiatrist for the defendant said that he had a psychosis problem, that every time he had been in the hospital he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia or psychosis. Now, I can tell you why we`re perhaps going on late tonight with this verdict. The judge wanted this case pushed through tonight, because a winter storm is on the way. Now the judge is coming into the chambers. Let`s listen. JUDGE: All right. I`ve been advised that the jury has reached a verdict. Let the record reflect that the jury is not in the courtroom at this time, state counsel is present, as well as defense counsel and the defendant. Let`s bring the jury in. O`DONNELL: We are waiting for the jury to enter the courtroom in Stephenville, Texas. They have reached a verdict in the murder trial of Eddie Ray Routh. JUDGE: All right. Let the record reflect the jury has returned to the courtroom at this time. Ms. Stafford, you`re the foreperson of the jury? FOREPERSON: Yes, Your Honor. JUDGE: I`ve been advised a verdict has been reached in this matter. Is this correct? FOREPERSON: Yes, Your Honor. JUDGE: If you`ll hand the verdict form to the bailiff. Mr. Routh, if you`ll please stand. FOREPERSON: All right. We the jury find the defendant Eddie Ray Routh guilty of the felony offense of capital murder as charged in the indictment. That verdict is signed by Ms. Stafford as foreperson of the jury. You may be seated at this time. Do you wish to have the jury polled? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Judge. JUDGE: What I will do at this point is individually start at the first seat first juror and ask you the same question of each juror. Is this a unanimous verdict of the jury? Say loud. JUROR 1: Yes. JUDGE: Jury number two, is this a unanimous verdict? JUROR 2: Yes. JUDGE: Juror number three, is this a unanimous verdict? JUROR 3: Yes. JUDGE: Juror number four? JUROR 4: Yes, sir. JUDGE: Juror number five? JUROR 5: Yes, sir. JUDGE: Juror number six? JUROR 6: Yes, Your Honor. JUDGE: Juror number seven? JUROR 7: Yes, sir. JUDGE: Juror number eight? JUROR 8: Yes. JUDGE: Juror number nine? JUROR 9: Yes, sir. JUDGE: Juror number 10? JUROR 10: Yes. JUDGE: Juror number 11? JUROR 11: Yes, sir. JUDGE: Juror number 12? JUROR 12: Yes, Your Honor. JUDGE: All right, this completes your service as jurors in this matter. I will receive and accept your verdict in this matter and hand it to the clerk to have it filed for the papers this time. All right, Mr. Routh, if you would please stand again. Having received and accepted the jury`s verdict in this matter, my statute, I will now impose sentencing in this matter, confinement for life in the Texas Criminal Justice Department without the possibility of parole. That`s the verdict of this court, and I will enter judgment accordingly. You may be seated at this time again. I will continue, Mr. St. John as your attorney in regard to your rights to appeal, and that is a direct appeal to the Eastland Court of Appeals which is the home of the 11th Court of Appeals, which is the court for this jurisdiction, and also, your rights with regards to filing a petition for discretionary review with the Court of Criminal Appeals in Texas. I will remand your custody to the sheriff of Erath County to carry out the imposition of the judgment of this court and the jury`s verdict in this matter. Do you have a legal reason at this time why it should not be imposed? (INAUDIBLE) JUDGE: Finding nothing, I will enter judgment and remand your custody to the sheriff in Erath County to carry out the imposition of this sentence and judgment of this court in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Now then, turning back to the jury. Certainly appreciate your effort in this matter. I have constantly talked to you about the rules of what you can and can`t do. From this point forward, I have no other control over you. I am discharging you from those rules and obligations. I want to talk to you briefly about that. You`re free to discuss this case with anyone at this point or to not discuss the case. That`s certainly up to you. I want to issue a statement to you and that is the lawyers in this matter are professionals and they`re not going to bother you about your verdict, I can assure you of that. Should anybody else attempt to bother you about your verdict, make it known to any of these officers of this court and we`ll get it stopped, quick, fast, and in a hurry. I have been asked by the media, just as this has been a high profile matter, that they want to talk to you about your service as a juror. That`s a decision that`s wholly up to you at this point. I will issue a word of caution in this regard. You can talk to me if you want or you don`t have to. Remember, what you say will be looked at from time now on. Once it`s recorded, there`s no take-backs. So be careful, be judicious about what you`re going to say if you decide to make those interviews. I have the transport available to take you back -- O`DONNELL: We have lost transmission from the courtroom where Eddie Ray Routh was just sentenced to life in prison without parole. The judge is about to discharge the jury. He has given them some instructions and warnings about talking to the media and talking publicly about this case after they are discharged. We are joined now by Charles Hadlock, who is outside the courtroom there. Charles, do we know if we`re going to get that transmission back from the courtroom? HADLOCK: We`re probably not. That was the judge`s order that after punishment, the feed would be pulled. He will instruct the jury that they can or can`t talk to the media as they leave. And then, they will begin that victim impact statement that will not be recorded at all. But the people in the courtroom will be able to hear from the victim. O`DONNELL: And Michael Snipes is also still with us, former Texas judge. So, Judge Snipes, it seems to be occurring exactly as you predicted, an immediate imposition of sentence since it`s an automatic sentence. Now, it seems there will be that relatively private victim impact statement in the courtroom. SNIPES: That`s absolutely customary. In fact, as I listened to the judge, it brought back memories of the kind of instructions that he gave to the jury and the way that he pronounced sentence in the case. It was nothing that I did not expect once the verdict came in. O`DONNELL: And how long do you anticipate the victim impact statement taking in that courtroom? SNIPES: Well, that`s entirely up to the judge pretty much, but typically they take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour or so. I wouldn`t think it would take all that long in this case. Everybody knows what the victim`s sentiments are in the case. And this is, again, as I said before, just their way to try to clear their souls and move forward with their lives. O`DONNELL: And, Judge Snipes, at the conclusion of that victim impact statement, is that it? Is that the moment where the judge gavels this try to a close? SNIPES: That is it. Of course, then we go into appellate matters, possible motion for a new trial, and who knows how long all that will take? O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what was the -- we are now authorized to use video and sound from the trial, and I want to listen to what the prosecutor said today, what was the winning argument in this case today, saying that the bottom line was that the defendant knew what he did was wrong. Let`s listen to that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JANE STARNES, PROSECUTOR: The bottom line was the defendant knew what he did was wrong, according to Dr. Price. And then he`s setting up his defense, like he`s done many times before, he commits the crime, he does a violent act, he gets wiped out of his gourd and goes to the mental hospital. That`s what he wanted to see happen again, the night of February 2nd. He was setting up his defense. And then he comes up with this preposterous hybrid pig man story that he tried to sell to Dr. Dunn, apparently did sell to Dr. Dunn because he fell for it hook, line, and sinker. And you reasonable people of Erath County know that that story about the hybrid pig man and the pig assassin is a load of hogwash. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: So, Brian Wice, there`s a prosecutor telling that jury there perfectly empowered to overrule a psychiatrist in this case. WICE: And again, this jury is instructed at the beginning of the trial that they are not supposed to leave their common sense in the courthouse hallway. I think the prosecutor Jane Starnes did an outstanding job in that byte we just heard, saying it`s not about the experts, it`s not about anything but your own collective wisdom and good sense. And I really do believe that what happened in this case was not unexpected. Listen, Lawrence, it`s one of the dirty little secrets of the criminal justice system that not all victims are created equal. While there was some outcry in the wake of the release of the movie "American Sniper," the people on this jury, I`m fairly confident, don`t follow Michael Moore and Seth Rogan on Twitter. O`DONNELL: We`re joined by former Congressman Patrick Murphy. He`s an attorney, also a veteran of the Iraq war. Patrick, you`re one of the first people we talked to about this trial and the issue PTSD might play in this trial. What is your reaction to this verdict tonight? PATRICK MURPHY, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Lawrence, it`s a sad day. I mean, you have a marine, two marines who were killed. You have another marine now who is going to spend the rest of his life in prison. I`m glad that justice was served, but it breaks my heart to see what happens. It`s a tragedy, and to know that there`s hundreds of thousands of veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan war that have PTSD. To know there`s 22 veterans that commit suicide every day. To know every night, there`s 29,000 veterans who are homeless across America. So, you know, I`m glad justice was served and he`s held accountable. But it breaks my heart when you see so many tragedies going on every day in America. O`DONNELL: Patrick, what was your reaction to the prosecution`s argument that PTSD had nothing to do with this, and mental illness had nothing to do with this? MURPHY: You know, I -- listen, I personally disagree. It was clear Mr. Routh had some serious issues, documented issues, time and time again in the V.A. But, at the end of the day, Lawrence, as I said during his trial, I mean, -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- we all know that Eddie was going to jail for -- he was going away for the rest of his life, whether it`s to a mental institution or a jail, he`s going to jail. I think it clearly played a role, there`s no doubt, he was disturbed. Chris Kyle`s own text message the day of his death was that this guy was crazy, and was probably saying, you know, "Watch my six," in the car. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what the defense attorney said today about schizophrenia and about the diagnosis, and about what he called, basically, the prosecution and defense testimony of doctor against doctor. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TIM MOORE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY, "AMERICAN SNIPER" TRIAL: We brought you Dr. Dunn, who works with schizophrenics every single day of the week. And he has for 20 years. They brought you Dr. Price, who`s a nice man, who`s a smart man and a good psychologist, but he doesn`t deal with schizophrenia. And he has only diagnosed this 10-week induced psychosis one time in 30 years. And they brought you Dr. Alan Bullough (ph), who`s President of the Medical Association of Texas. It sounds like it but what he does most of the time is not dealing with patients like Dr. Dunn does every single day. And Dr. Dunn told you Eddie is suffering from schizophrenia. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Brian Weiss, with your experience in Texas courtrooms, what do you -- how do you score the argument between the attorneys about the psychiatrists. BRIAN WEISS, TEXAS APPELLATE LAWYER: Well, I mean, make no mistake, Tim Moore and Warren St. John did an outstanding job of defending their client. They did everything that I would have expected a reasonably competent criminal defense attorney in Texas to do, Lawrence. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) They had laid testimony. They had their expert testimony. And they attempted to craft a narrative that they truly believed, that this Erath County jury would embrace. And the fact they weren`t successful in doing it doesn`t mean that they are grade off for any substantial reason. This was a tough case involving an American hero, in a small town where the perception was that Chris Kyle was the kind of man that we want our sons to grow up to be. (END VIDEO CLIP) In a case like this, I think that Patrick Murphy is absolutely correct, that there are no winners. It is a sad day, but we have to believe that -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- these 12 good folks from the Erath County did what they thought the law and the facts ultimately required, Lawrence. O`DONNELL: Patrick Murphy, I want to go back to the issue -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- of PTSD, which has been around this trial. It`s been introduced, to some extent, in the evidence in the trial. And, certainly, the diagnosis of schizophrenia was introduced by the defense early in the trial. What do you think -- what do you think this trial does to the discussion of PTSD National. MURPHY: Lawrence, I think this trial will bring the light, and show light, that there are a lot of veterans out there who are suffering as they come back from war. And when we send our young men and women into harm`s way, it better be damn right for the right reasons. Just like, I would say, the movie, "American Sniper," showed how Chris Kyle went and served four deployments, came back, and had some issues. You know, it was not easy for him when he came home. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) And it`s not easy for most veterans when they come home. And, Lawrence, I say that, you know, I`m a champion for my fellow veterans. And, you know, veterans are leaders, they`re civic assets. And majority of them are doing great. But when you have hundreds of thousands of them coming -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- back from the longest war in American history, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and, you know, 20 percent of them, you know, are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- that`s a problem. And that`s not a problem just for the government to solve. It`s a problem for all of us as Americans. You know, we`re the ones -- our political leaders are the ones who sent them into harm`s way. It`s all of our responsibility to be embrace them when they come home and let them know that we`re there for them and we`ll be there for their reintegration. O`DONNELL: Brian Weiss, what do you say -- to you, as a defense attorney, about the state of insanity defenses in Texas, and then also the issue of bringing PTSD into trials like this. WEISS: Well, I think, Lawrence, in the wake of the now famous John Hinckley acquittal, 25, 30 years ago, really, those chickens are still coming home to roost in courtrooms, certainly all across America, certainly all across the great state of Texas. It is exceedingly difficult in the wake of what happened in Hinckley for any criminal defense attorney to successfully advance an insanity defense. We have a narrow statute. The test is difficult. And when we look back over the last decade or so here in Texas, the only real high profile case that comes to mind, where an acquittal ultimately carried the day, was not the first but the second trial on the Andrea Yates case, not far from where we are tonight, here in Houston. PTSD is, again, as Patrick Murphy so eloquently pointed out, is a scourge that afflicts, again, the men and women who are the real-life heroes in this country, who we do send into harm`s way. And it`s a tragedy that PTSD, at least, in the context of this case or any other case, might not be the avenue through which someone who is gripped in that psychosis that precludes him from distinguishing between right and wrong, will ultimately mean that they`re acquitted. But, again, the fact that this jury, on these facts and the law that they were given by the judge, ultimately reached the decision that they believed was the right thing to do. O`DONNELL: I want to go back to Charles Hadlock outside the courtroom, if we still have him there. Charles, -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- what can we expect to happen next. We have camera set-ups there, microphones, attorneys, probably. CHARLES HADLOCK, NBC NEWS PRODUCER/REPORTER: We have cameras and -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- microphones set up here. We`re waiting for someone to come out. We were told by the court public information officer that someone would speak after the trial. We were also told it would not be a member of the prosecution. In fact, I asked the district attorney during the break if he would come out and speak. He said, he would not at this time. So, we`re not sure exactly who will come to the microphones tonight. We`re still waiting to see and hear who that will be, Lawrence. O`DONNELL: I want to go back to Judge Snipes for one of the original -- the first questions raised in this trial, which was a petition by the defense for a change of venue. That was denied. The argument was that this is -- this community is too charged an area in which to have this trial. What did you -- what did you make of the judge`s ruling in that. And what are the elements that a judge in Texas is faced with in making a decision about change of venue. MICHAEL SNIPES, FORMER JUDGE, DALLAS COUNTY: Well, the judge has to decide not whether or not there`s publicity in the case, and not whether or not the jury heard or knew being the publicity, including the movie. It`s whether or not the jury can put that out of their mind and render a fair and partial verdict in the case. From what I saw in the case, the judge did a masterful job in making his decisions on that. Whether he was correct or not will be up to the appellate courts. But, certainly, I saw no reason to criticize him whatsoever. O`DONNELL: And, Brian Weiss, when a judge is considering change of venue in Texas, is it also a factor that, in a situation like this, there probably isn`t any community in Texas that is any less saturated with publicity about this trial. WEISS: That`s a great point, Lawrence. Where are we going to try this. So, are we going to try in West Hartford, Connecticut. I mean, at the end of the day, Judge Snipes is absolutely right. It`s not a question of whether there`s been a firestorm of publicity, or whether a juror has seen the movie or read papers or magazine articles. It`s whether or not they can take their oath as a juror and swear that they will decide this case, and a true verdict render on the law and the facts. And we have seen, time and again, in this county, Houston Harris County Texas, some of the most highly-publicized cases that your viewers are privy to. And they stay in town because, thankfully, we have jurors who are able to say that, "What I`ve seen, what I`ve heard, and what I`ve heard will not impact my ability to be a fair and impartial jury." And I think that the odds of the Eastland Court of Appeals -- well, for that matter, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in Austin, essentially overturning this verdict because of the venue issue is really, -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- really far-fetched, Lawrence. O`DONNELL: And, Michael Snipes, on a change of venue petition, a Texas judge is not empowered to move a trial out of the state, is he. SNIPES: No. As a matter of fact, that`s not a possibility. O`DONNELL: And, Patrick Murphy, to go back to the veterans issues that are raised here, it seems like the veterans community has just a mix of torn sympathies. And in a situation like this, impossible not to have some feelings for Eddie Ray Routh and what he`s been through, and whatever drove to the point where his mother was begging Chris Kyle to try to help him and take care of him in any way that he possibly could. And then, obviously, the -- just the horrible, horrible outcome for Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield, a tragedy and horrible crime committed against them. MURPHY: Yes, I mean, -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- to read the transcripts, Lawrence, about how Chris Kyle`s widow, Taya, you know, left the courtroom today because they`re talking about -- well, if Eddie Routh`s, you know, mother when she went to Chris Kyle, would have told Chris Kyle about how violent Eddie was in the past, you know, that 20-20 hindsight, they`re going to be replaying this the rest of their lives -- "If we had only done this," or "We have done that." The bottom line is, you know, you have two great American veterans, you know, who are up in heaven right now. And you have another Marine who killed them, who is just convicted and who will spend the rest of his life in jail. And that`s three lives and three families that will never get back that person that they give the U.S. Military several years ago. And all three, which are combat veterans. O`DONNELL: And Brian Weiss, what would the -- what would the two different outcomes that were possible in -- tonight. I mean, what is the - - (END VIDEO CLIP) -- difference between being institutionalized for criminal mental illness in Texas versus life in prison, assuming he never would have been released as a mental patient. Because that is the huge difference, is that it does leave open, at least, at minimum, the technical -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- possibility that he could, at some point, have been released from custody. WEISS: Sure, Lawrence. I think that once, unfortunately and tragically, Eddie Ray Routh pulled the trigger two years ago, it was clear that he was never going to see the free world, as you and I know it. Whether it was life without parole in the Institutional Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, or whether it`s a lockdown 24/7, stringent mental health facility, at the end of the day, this man`s life was over as he knew it, as soon as he ended the lives of these two great American heroes, Lawrence. O`DONNELL: And Judge Snipes, what`s the difference in those facilities, how grim or how positive an atmosphere would the mental institution be. I think we don`t have Michael Snipes anymore. We lost our connection. Brian Weiss, can you deal with that. Do we know much about the difference between the Texas mental health facility that the finding criminal insanity would have led him to, the difference between the life lived there and the life lived in prison. WEISS: Not a tremendous amount of difference. I mean, obviously, in the confines of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, you`ve got guards with guns and 24-hour lockdown. It`s not all that much different in the type of mental facility that Eddie Ray Routh would have been confined to. And while Judge Jason Cashon retains jurisdiction, or would have retained jurisdiction, over this case and, conceivably, could have had the ability to modify or ultimately even release this defendant, if he believed that Eddie Ray Routh was no longer a danger to himself and to others, well, obviously, Lawrence, that was never going to be an issue. O`DONNELL: We are awaiting a statement possibly from one of the relatives of Chad Littlefield. We have microphones and cameras set up there, as you can see, just outside the courtoom. Charles Hadlock, if you`re still with us outside the courtroom, is there any more word on who might be appearing in front of those microphones. HADLOCK: Not yet, Lawrence. But we`ll say that, at the opening of the closing statements by the prosecution, they had a very poignant moment. They said that this should not be called the "American Sniper" trial because two people died that day, Chris Kyle and his bestfriend, Chad Littlefield. They were just trying to help Eddie Ray Routh. They were taking him out to the Rough Creek Lodge, a very upscale shooting range here. And that they were trying to help him. And in that long ride, about a 90-minute ride out there, the two men texted each other that this guy is straight-up nuts. And Chad Littlefield responded, "Watch my six. He`s right behind me." But the prosecution said in the closing arguments, "We really don`t know what the two men really thought of Eddie Ray Routh." But when they got to the lodge, they unloaded their truck that was full of guns. They loaded a dozen or so guns out on a table. If they really thought he was that dangerous, they probably wouldn`t have done that. They thought they were trying to help him. And, instead, Eddie Ray Routh shot them in the back -- one, two, three, four, five, six times, each man. Each man had a service revolver in their holster. They never had a chance to pull it out because Eddie Ray Routh surprised them, the prosecutor said, by shooting them in the back. And he asked the jury to find them guilty. They killed two men in this county. "Find them guilty," those were the last words the prosecutor said to the jury. And less than two hours later, -- O`DONNELL: Charles, we seem to have Chad Littlefield`s mother now, possibly approaching the microphones outside the courtroom. She is now approaching those microphones. HADLOCK: Yes. JUDY LITTLEFIELD, CHAD LITTLEFIELD`S MOTHER: Here? Good evening. We just want to say that we`ve waited two years for God to get justice for us on behalf of our son. And, as always, God has proved to be faithful. And we`re so thrilled that we have the verdict that we have tonight. And thank you, guys, for being so compassionate. And treating us with respect and honoring us. Thank you very much. DON LITTLEFIELD, CHAD LITTLEFIELD`S FATHER: Thank you. UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER 1: Thank you. UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER 2: Thank you. UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER 3: Thank you, ma`am. O`DONNELL: That was Judy Littlefield, the mother of Chad Littlefield, the second man who was killed. Judged by this jury, in fact, two have been murdered, criminally murdered by Eddie Ray Routh at that shooting range in Texas two years ago. Judge Michael Snipes, I think you are back with us now with the audio. The situation that the judge is facing -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- on the issue of sentencing here, it`s automatic. Obviously, when this comes back, you`ve told us about that, that it`s automatic life imprison. But we were discussing the difference, the actual life -- day-to-day life difference between that and the opposite verdict, which would have sent Eddie Ray Routh into a confined mental institution. What is your understanding of the day-to-day life difference in those two facilities. SNIPES: Well, contrary to what one of the analysts said moments ago, it`s a significant difference. The mental institutions are about rehabilitating the individual that`s assigned there. It`s not about punishment. It`s about trying to make them better. And, ultimately, of course, there`s always the possibility that they could be found to be sane later. And then, a judge can decide to allow them to go back into society. In addition to that, there`s no sort of barbed razor wires, -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- there`s no prison guards. It`s very different. I`m not saying it`s a walk in the park. But it`s certainly not a lockdown facility like you might have down at the Texas Department of Corrections in Huntsville. O`DONNELL: I want to go to more of what the prosecutor had to say today -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- in the argument that carried the day with the jury. Prosecutor argued that Eddie Ray Routh was not criminally insane at the time of those murder, that the argument was that he was high, he was on drugs. Let`s listen to this part -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JANE STARNES, PROSECUTOR, "AMERICAN SNIPER" TRIAL: He got up early, drank some vodka from the freezer, drank whiskey when his Uncle James came over, smoked some left-over marijuana. And then we know he smoked some more with his uncle. The guy is intoxicated. And remember, we`re talking About 3:00 to 4:00 in the afternoon, after all of this going on in the morning, drinking and smoking. You don`t have to still be high at 11:00 o`clock at night. We`re talking about is he under the influence of some substance, 3:00 to 4:00 in the afternoon when he kills these men. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Charles Hadlock, that gave the jury an alternative to the insanity defense, that as much as anything else, this was someone who has mixed up on all kinds of drugs and alcohol. HADLOCK: That`s correct. And that was their position from the beginning. The state said that this man may have had emotional problems. He may have had a personality disorder but he was not insane at the time of the killings. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) They claimed that he was high on drugs and alcohol, that he had a problem with drugs and alcohol since he was a teenager. They continued until the morning that Chris Kyle came to pick him up to take him to the shooting range. O`DONNELL: And I`d like to hear more from the prosecutors since, now, there`s videos just now becoming available to us. The judge did not allow us to use any of the video and audio during the trial. And so, it`s now available. I want to get what the prosecutor said today about the -- I`m sorry, what we now have -- actually, we now have the right to use video from much earlier in the trial. And I want to get to a spot where Eddie Ray Routh`s mother talked about asking for help. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ALAN NASH, ERATH COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: He got out of the Military. And these men were approached by his mother, "Would you spend time with him. Would you befriend him." (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: That was obviously the attorney describing the mother`s approach to this. And, Brian Weiss, the -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- defense obviously had very little to work with here. It was going to turn on entirely whether or not this jury accepted the psychiatrist`s testimony because it seems the -- any sympathetic cords that could be struck by family testimony by Eddie Ray Routh`s mom were going to be more than overwhelmed by the emotional testimony coming from Chris Kyle`s widow and others. WEISS: Yes. And not just that, Lawrence. Obviously, -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- this story recognizes that all of our relatives, our moms, our dads, our brothers and sisters, would want to do what they could to help us if, God forbid, found ourselves sitting at the defense table. And, yes, I think you`re correct. This was a question of what expert this jury ultimately more credible. And in a situation like this, where the state has the opportunity for rebuttal and, particularly, with that powerful, compelling and ultimately inculpatory evidence during the taped phone calls, it`s something that this jury embraced. Because, in their mind`s eye it`s what the law and the facts ultimately require. O`DONNELL: I want to go to another early decision that the judge -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- made in this trial, and that was to not sequester the jury. The jury was allowed to come and go every day. They were exposed to all of the news media, instructed to not pay attention to it. But, Michael Snipes, the instruction to not pay any attention to it is very different from sequestering. And judges around the country, at different times, decide it`s just an inhuman kind of pressure on -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- jurors if we allow them to be out there in the world, surrounded by all this media. What`s your reaction to the judge`s decision not to sequester this jury. SNIPES: Well, it`s also kind of an inhuman pressure to sequester them every night and take them away from life as they know it. My practice was this -- once the -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- jury goes out for the verdict, a death penalty case or capital murder case, I sequester them then. But not during the actual trial itself. O`DONNELL: I want to go back to Charles Hadlock outside the courtroom there. Charles, what do we know about the -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- victim impact statement, which was the final procedure that was closed to us in that courtroom tonight. HADLOCK: I`m just getting a note here from the reporters in the courtroom, listening to the impact statement. It is from Jerry Richardson, Chad Littlefield`s stepbrother. He says, in part, speaking directly to Eddie Ray Routh, "You took the lives of two heroes, men that tried to be a friend to you. And you became an American disgrace." "Your inhumanity and disregard for life will put you in a world you will never escape. Your childish actions have brought humiliation to your family, who will forever have to carry the scar you have become, -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- a murderer." Those are the words of Jerry Richardson, Chad Littlefield`s stepbrother. Of course, Chad Littlefield was with Chris Kyle when they were both gunned down on the shooting range, not far from here in Stephenville, Texas just over two years ago. O`DONNELL: Charles, is it your impression that given that Chris Kyle`s widow had testified in the case, and some other family members, that the victim impact statement was -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- then left to someone who had not testified in the case for that reason. HADLOCK: I`m not sure about that. I think the other guests here have said pointedly that the victim impact statement here in Texas is basically a chance to give the victims a chance to speak directly to the defendant and tell them what has gone on in their lives in the last two years. I think that`s what it is, just a bit of closure for people here. It really has no impact on the judge`s decision on punishment. That was mandated by law in this case. But, in Texas, victims can speak, sometimes at the judge`s discretion, directly to -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- the defendant to let them know exactly what they`ve done to their family. And that`s what Jerry Richardson did tonight. O`DONNELL: And, Brian Weiss, that must be a difficult decision for family members and loved ones to make in a situation like this, that decision of, -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- should one of us speak directly to this person, directly to the person who murdered our husband, our brother, whoever it is we`re talking about. And I can imagine many people deciding, "I don`t want to be the person who does that." WEISS: It`s not an easy thing to do. And I have seen so many victim impact statements, Lawrence, over the course of the two decades since the victims acquired the right to make victim impact statements. And, in fact, it was never a God-given right here in Texas until a couple of decades ago when family members, in a horribly tragic, brutal double capital murder right here in Houston, went to the legislature and lobbied for the right to be able to look the defendant in the eyes and tell him or her exactly how they feel. And, again, having seen far too many of these than I can imagine, it tears your inside. And of all the things that we could think of what we have to do in life, I would suggest that making a victim impact statement is probably one of the most difficult, Lawrence. O`DONNELL: Yes, it`s incredibly difficult. I don`t think I`d be capable of doing it. But, Judge Snipes, I have to believe it`s one of the more important advances that has occurred in the criminal justice system, this ability to allow the victims to actually give voice directly to a convicted defendant about what this has meant to them and what they are suffering. SNIPES: I would totally agree to that. And to clarify a point, it is a right of the victims by statute. So, the judge has the discretion to possibly limit the scope of the victim -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- impact statements. But as to whether or not they want to give them or not, that is an absolute statutory right. O`DONNELL: Yes. And it takes us, you know, a certain kind of strength and poise to be able to do it. I imagine, Judge Snipes, there may have been some instances over the years that you`ve witnessed where things might have gotten a little bit emotionally out of control in victim impact statements. SNIPES: And what you do, as a judge, you very -- you try to be very kind about it, very polite about it. But suggest to the victim that they might have said enough. O`DONNELL: Uh-hmm. Brian Weiss, what does the defense bar in Texas take from the experience of this -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- trial. What does it -- what does it tell defense lawyers in Texas, if anything, that they didn`t already know about insanity defenses. WEISS: How very difficult it is to successfully mount one, Lawrence. But I also think it reaffirms -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- the fact that I`m a little prejudiced. I think we have the best criminal defense bar in America, right here in this state. And as analyst for so many networks, including the original "Court TV," I`ve seen lawyers from all over America. You know, my position is that we have the finest criminal defense bar and some of the finest prosecutors that I`ve ever seen. And I think what it reaffirms is that these men, Tim Moore and Warren St. John, did what all of us who have that law license on our wall are supposed to do. You bring your a-game, you zealously represent your client within the canons. (END VIDEO CLIP) And when it`s over, you can look at yourself in the mirror and know that you did the absolute best that you possibly could. O`DONNELL: Judge Snipes, before we go, I just want to review whether there`s anything that suggests a possible hook for an avenue for appeal of any kind to you in this case. SNIPES: Well, you`d have to review the record of trial. But from what I`ve seen in media reports and, of course, I wasn`t in the courtroom or anything, I don`t see anything that would be reversible error in the case. But that`s for people in higher courts with bigger robes than me and smarter than me are going to have to decide. O`DONNELL: And Brian, same to you -- and it`s true that unless you`re in the courtroom for every minute, this is -- you can`t give a really authoritative answer about this. But, certainly, the question, if anything jumped out at any point in these proceedings. WEISS: No, because Jason Cashon did what we really want trial judges to do. And that`s call balls and strikes, not squeeze the strike zone on either side and ultimately not care who wins or loses. And as an appellate lawyer in this state for the last 30 plus years, I can tell you that the reversal rate and in non-death penalty cases is right around four percent. And the Eastland Court of Appeals that I`ve had the privilege of arguing in front, will give this -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- appeal the consideration that it will deserve, as will the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. But when all is said and done, when this appellate process is concluded, I`m confident that the verdict that was accepted by Judge Cashon tonight will ultimately remain undisturbed on appeal, Lawrence. O`DONNELL: I want to thank everyone for joining with this tonight. Charles Hadlock, Brian Weiss, Michael Snipes, Patrick Murphy, thank you all. Our coverage of the verdict in this trial in Texas continues right here on MSNBC. END