Testimony: Was Jesse Ventura really punched at SEALs reunion? - KMSP-TV

Testimony: Was Jesse Ventura really punched at SEALs reunion?

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

Bill Dewitt is a former Navy SEAL who graduated in the same underwater demolition class as Jesse Ventura. On Thursday, he testified for several hours about the night at a California bar in 2006 that’s at the center of Ventura’s defamation lawsuit against former SEAL and author Chris Kyle.

Kyle’s book, "American Sniper: An Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History,” details an incident in 2006 where he punches a man called “Scruff Face.” Ventura’s name is never used in the book, but Kyle later identified him in radio and TV interviews. Ventura said the fight never happened.

Dewitt was with Ventura at McP’s Irish Pub in Coronado, Calif. in 2006 as part of a reunion weekend, and said many younger SEALs approached Ventura. He testified that he never heard Ventura say anything derogatory about the United States or the war, and he never saw any confrontation or fight. Though under cross examination, Dewitt admitted he’s hard of hearing and was never close enough to hear anything Ventura said to them.

“We’d have been right there, right next to him,” Dewitt said.

As for a black eye the next day: “Nada. No black eye. Nothing.”

But photos shown in court of Ventura the next day to support that were wide shots, with Ventura’s face difficult to see clearly. But Dewitt also said he did not see Ventura leave McP’s. He was not with him in the parking lot, where Chris Kyle claims he threw the punch.

The subject of Chris Kyle’s Ventura story during TV and radio appearances came up Thursday morning, when more of his videotaped deposition was shown. Emails from publicists noted how book sales skyrocketed right after the shows, and they encouraged him to keep talking about Ventura. But considering it’s such a tiny portion of the book, not the subject, he grew uncomfortable.

“I wanted to downplay the story and move on,” Kyle said at one point. “I just wanted to move away from it and not even discuss it.”

Jesse Ventura is seeking damages, but said his primary reason for the lawsuit is to clear his name. The trial in St. Paul, Minn. is expected to last about two weeks.

LEGAL INSIDER: What Jesse Ventura must prove to win defamation lawsuit

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