Archived Story

Ventura trial: Defense attorney says story was embarrassing, true

Published 11:08am Tuesday, July 15, 2014

By Marino Eccher

St. Paul Pioneer Press

ST. PAUL — Laura deShazo didn’t have many doubts about what she saw the night of Oct. 12, 2006: Jesse Ventura got hit in a bar fight with another man.

But some details of her account — particularly where the former Minnesota governor was standing when she saw the incident — don’t match with other versions of the story that prompted Ventura’s defamation lawsuit against a former Navy SEAL sniper and author.

DeShazo testified Monday in federal court in St. Paul in Ventura’s case against the estate of Chris Kyle. Kyle wrote in his 2012 bestseller “American Sniper” about punching out a celebrity called “Scruff Face” after the man spoke ill of fallen SEALs at a military wake in a Coronado, Calif., bar.

Kyle identified Ventura as Scruff Face in promotional interviews for the book. Ventura claims the story was fabricated, ruined his reputation in military circles and drove employers away. He is a former member of the Navy’s Underwater Demolition Team, a unit that later merged with the SEALs.

Kyle was shot to death last year at a Texas gun range, allegedly by a fellow veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Ventura continued the lawsuit against his estate, represented by Kyle’s widow, Taya.

DeShazo, the sister of a Navy SEAL and an education specialist for Utah’s public schools, testfied that she was at the bar the night in question for the wake of Michael Monsoor, a slain SEAL.

DeShazo, the first witness called by the defense, said someone pointed out Ventura to her and that she, her sister and another woman posed for a picture with him. Otherwise, she said, she had little interaction with him.

Later that night, she testified, deShazo said, she saw an altercation involving a group of people in the bar. Ventura was involved.

DeShazo said she was certain the fight took place on the bar’s patio, where the wake was held and where Ventura and his Navy classmates had gathered for a reunion of their own.

Other accounts, including Kyle’s testimony in a 2012 deposition, place the incident on a sidewalk outside the patio and in the opposite direction from where deShazo said she witnessed it.

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