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Jury begins hearing Jesse Ventura's defamation case


ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Jesse Ventura brought his defamation lawsuit before home-state jurors Tuesday in a bid to punish the estate of late "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle, who bragged in an autobiography that he knocked the former Minnesota governor out during a barroom scrap almost a decade ago.

In opening statements in federal court, Ventura attorney David Olsen said the punch never happened and that Ventura never made disparaging comments about servicemen, as Kyle claimed.

"Jesse Ventura will testify there was no incident, there was no altercation, and that Kyle made the whole story up," Olsen said.

Kyle estate attorney John Borger countered that the jury would get the real story from Kyle via testimony videotaped before his death.

"You will hear Chris Kyle testify he was absolutely sure that what he wrote about Jesse Ventura's behavior was true," Borger said. Both sides said they would produce witnesses to back their version of events.

A four-woman, six-man jury was seated quickly to hear Ventura's case, which he pursued even after Kyle was killed last year at a Texas gun range, saying it was important to clear his name.

Ventura, a former Navy SEAL and wrestler who was Minnesota governor from 1999-2003, alleges Kyle defamed him in his best-selling book.

In it, Kyle - also a former SEAL and regarded as the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history - describes a 2006 bar fight in California in which he said he punched a man, later identified as Ventura, knocking him to the ground. Kyle claimed that Ventura was speaking loudly against President George W. Bush, the Iraq War and Navy SEAL tactics. Kyle claimed Ventura said the SEALS "deserve to lose a few."

Ventura, who has hosted several cable TV shows since his single term as Minnesota's governor ended in 2002, has said his job offers dried up after the book was published and he was worried about being seen as a traitor to the military.

Kyle's widow, Taya Kyle, is now the defendant in Ventura's case. Ventura and Taya Kyle are both expected to testify.

Ventura, who often had a contentious relationship with the Minnesota media, declined to speak to reporters as court broke for lunch. He watched Tuesday's proceedings with a serious look on his face most of the time, only occasionally cracking a smile while speaking with his attorneys.

Legal experts have said Ventura has to prove that Kyle made up the story and profited from it, and that Ventura's reputation was hurt as a result.

Ventura said earlier this year that his lawsuit is "about clearing my name," but significant money is at stake. Kyle's book has made more than $3 million in royalties and the judge in the case has ruled that profits from an upcoming movie could be subject to damages, too.

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Brian K July 08 2014 at 4:53 PM

As a former soldier and paratrooper I have no problem telling Mr. Ventura that he is without honor, humility, or patience. He has seemingly always been the epitome of narcissism. I am thinking that the deceased Navy Seal probably hit a little too close to home for Ventura's liking. I sincerely hope he loses this case and reaps every negative benefit to his reputation that is earned from his effort.

Flag Reply +99 rate up
20 replies
J L Murrell July 08 2014 at 4:51 PM

Well, here's another stupid lawsuit brought by a stupid litle man.

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8 replies
silverfawn July 08 2014 at 5:27 PM

So Mr. Ventura sues a widow- rather than the man himself when the man was alive. Yeah, that move is a GREAT way to fix a damaged reputation, very classy. And Mr. Ventura honestly thinks the tale of an old barfight is what makes people avoid buying his books?

Flag Reply +62 rate up
14 replies
Charlie July 08 2014 at 4:45 PM

Ventura's reputation is in the pits already and this will just finish off the decline he has been in since he was a wrestler. His whole career as a wrestler was fake so this is noting new.

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5 replies
decorsbie July 08 2014 at 5:36 PM

I hope Ventura looses big!

Flag Reply +45 rate up
2 replies
holly decorsbie July 08 2014 at 8:03 PM


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denise decorsbie July 09 2014 at 12:22 AM

decorsbie ... So what is the story with this band of thugs ... you support the military no matter what the TRUTH is? That's disgusting and bullying. Wake up and use your brain before engaging your mouth.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
2 replies
Hi! Tom denise July 09 2014 at 2:53 AM

What's disgusting is Ventura being a dishonorable POS by suing the WIDOW of a real American Hero! I guess he can't get by on his own without some sort of publicity and making money off of others. If Ventura was a real man he would let this slide. BTW, I'm a USMC Vietnam Veteran and would jump at the chance to knock Ventura on his ass.

Flag +5 rate up
jgesselberty denise July 09 2014 at 8:08 AM

Why is everything to you people called bullying. Get a life. You cannot even raise your voice in this country without it being called verbal abuse or bullying. Your comments to "wake up and use your brain" ARE bullying. Look in the mirror and see the bully. Just because someone doesn't agree with you, you insult them.

Flag +2 rate up
jtmuskie July 08 2014 at 6:11 PM

Another huge waste of taxpayer money. Judge- throw the case out, PLEASE.

Flag Reply +42 rate up
7 replies
scififan7 July 08 2014 at 5:09 PM

I guess his show on TrueTV has gone away and he needs $$$$. The judge should throw this OUT! PERIOD!

Flag Reply +36 rate up
CREEPER July 08 2014 at 5:37 PM

Let it Go you Idiot

Flag Reply +34 rate up
3 replies
Janice July 08 2014 at 5:49 PM

Still can't figure what the hell he stands for, but how low can u go. He'll do anything to get in the lime light again. Go find a hole. get in it and put the dirt over it.

Flag Reply +31 rate up
5 replies
greatbirdusa July 08 2014 at 7:21 PM

Jesse Ventura
is a despicable human.
Are there any horribly painful
lingering diseases that could inflict
and end this man's evilness.?

Flag Reply +24 rate up
9 replies
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