Jury set to get Ventura case Tuesday; defense seeks to toss case

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Both sides rested Friday in the case brought by former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, who is suing the estate of an ex-Navy SEAL sniper for defamation.

Final arguments are set for Tuesday, although a lawyer for the late SEAL sniper Chris Kyle asked the judge Friday to throw the case out for lack of evidence before the jury gets it, a routine legal move, the Pioneer Press reports.

At issue in the case has been Kyle's 2012 bestseller "American Sniper," in which Kyle describes a scene in a bar in which he punches out another man he calls "Scruff Face" in the book. Kyle, who was shot and killed last year on a Texas gun range, later identified Scruff Face as Ventura.

Ventura, a former pro wrestler and Navy SEAL himself, who has gone on to become a TV personality, hotly denies that the fight ever happened. He sued Kyle's estate, claiming the book anecdote harmed his reputation and caused him lost income.

Kyle's widow cried on the stand at one point during the nine days of testimony in trial, asserting that her husband was not a liar. Kyle's lawyers have argued that many of Ventura's controversial statements over the years did far more to harm his reputation than a story described in a few pages in a book.

Witnesses on the stand who were in the California bar that night in 2006 have given conflicting accounts of what happened.

Ventura testified that he doesn't even know if Kyle was in the bar that night.

For Ventura to prevail, the 10-member jury in the U.S. District Court trial in St. Paul must find that Kyle was not truthful and that he acted with "actual malice," the Pioneer Press notes.

Ventura's lawyers must respond to the defense's request Friday for the motion to toss the case, but they did not immediately comment. Lawyers on both sides plan to meet Monday with Judge Richard Kyle about instructions he plans give to the jury Tuesday, the Star Tribune reports.

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