Navy SEAL Testifies in Ventura Defamation Trial

Updated: 07/15/2014 10:28 PM
Created: 07/15/2014 1:32 PM
By: Megan Matthews

A Navy SEAL took the stand Tuesday, testifying in the Jesse Ventura defamation trial.

The former Minnesota governor is suing late military sniper Chris Kyle's estate for defamation. He says Kyle fabricated a story in the best-seller "American Sniper" about punching out Ventura at a bar after Ventura allegedly made derogatory remarks about Navy SEALs.

John Kelly, a Navy SEAL from Austin, Texas, served with Chris Kyle on SEAL Team 3. Kelly said he was at the bar in 2006, but testified he did not see Kyle punch Ventura. He did, however, see Ventura on the ground as he was leaving the bar.

Kelly’s testimony continued, describing the conversation he, Kyle and other SEALs had with Ventura as fun and “engaging.” When the conversation started to get political, Kelly said he decided to walk away. Kelly heard Ventura “bad-mouthing Bush and the war,” but he did not hear him say SEALs “deserve to lose a few” in Iraq.

There is a key discrepancy coming out of Kelly’s testimony. Where he said he saw Ventura on the floor is a different spot than where another witness claims she saw the punch happen.

Laura deShazo, of Salt Lake City, testified Monday. She said she saw Ventura get into a scuffle with other people at the bar and saw a man punch Ventura. She said she doesn’t know who threw the punch but gave a description that was consistent with Kyle.

Kyle is regarded as the deadliest military sniper in U.S. history. He was fatally shot at a Texas gun range last year.

Ventura testified that he blames the book for a 90 percent drop in his earnings since it came out in January 2012. He said job offers have dried up as a result of the harm to his reputation.

Besides the financial hit, Ventura said Kyle’s story hurt his reputation within the tight-knit Navy SEAL community, an especially bitter blow. He said he no longer feels welcome at SEAL reunions and doesn’t plan to attend them anymore, though he acknowledged under questioning that no former SEALs have criticized him to his face.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Jesse Ventura's defamation trial continues with testimony from a Navy SEAL who served with Chris Kyle.
Photo: AP/Jim Mone

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