The night in question was an unremarkable evening on October 6, 2006 at a pub, McP's, in Coronado, California. Jesse Ventura was out with two former SEAL friends on the eve of a SEAL graduation ceremony and their own bicentennial reunion. The younger SEALs were at the same pub after a SEAL's wake. Ventura was not drinking, but the younger SEALs were, some quite heavily. Ventura was unaware until more than six years later that he was the subject of a tall tale, fueled by alcohol, of a fight that never happened, where Chris Kyle said he sucker-punched Ventura for saying that SEALs "deserved to lose a few" in the Iraq war. That tale made it into Kyle's ghost-written memoir, American Sniper, but Ventura isn't mentioned by name (although in early drafts of the book he was). In national interviews after the book hit shelves in January 2012, Kyle identified Ventura as the former "celebrity" Navy SEAL he allegedly punched and knocked to the floor.
Ventura asked Kyle to retract the false story and apologize, but Kyle refused. Ventura then filed a defamation suit against Kyle in February 2012. Kyle was murdered at a Texas gun range in February 2013. The suit continued against his estate, represented by his wife, Taya Kyle.
Ventura's attorneys were able to underscore in court in July 2014 that all of the defense witnesses had been drinking — with some quite drunk — and gave conflicting accounts as to when Ventura allegedly made the remarks and where the fight occurred, in the parking lot, on the patio, or on at least two different sidewalks. One of Ventura's attorneys in closing arguments said: "The witnesses had heard about the fight as rumor, then talked about it among themselves, so eventually a myth became a fact over the eight years since the incident."
Only one of Kyle's witnesses, Jeremiah Dinnell, testified that he actually saw Kyle punch Ventura (click here for video). He says he witnessed Kyle punch Ventura on a sidewalk outside of McP's, a well-known Navy SEAL hangout. He says he also heard Ventura say to Kyle just before the punch that the SEALs "deserve to lose a few" in Iraq. "It's something that sticks with you," he testified in July 2014. However, under cross-examination, an attorney for Ventura played portions of a recorded deposition with Dinnell from 2012 during which he made no mention of Ventura saying that disparaging remark about Navy SEALs. Dinnell testified that he now remembers what Ventura said.
Dinnell's testimony conflicts with testimony from four other Navy SEAL witnesses for the defense, including Guy Budinscak. He was also at McP's the night of the alleged altercation between Ventura and Kyle. He says he saw Ventura getting up from the ground, but didn't see a punch. "Jesse looked disoriented and frazzled, not unlike someone who's been in a fight," Budinscak testified. Budinscak also testified he heard Ventura talking about political views and the Iraq war that made him sound like "he's on a different planet." However, he testified he didn't hear Ventura say Navy SEALs deserve to die.
In all, five Navy SEALs who were at McP's that night testified for the defense. One of them said he saw the punch, while the other four only claim to have seen Ventura getting up from the ground. In conflicting accounts, three of them testified the incident happened on the patio at the bar, while two say it happened on a sidewalk. Kyle himself, in a five-hour deposition videotaped a year before his death, told a variety of versions of the incident.
Ventura's witnesses were very consistent in denying seeing anything like Kyle or his witnesses described.
Jesse Ventura Explains His Conversation with Chris Kyle About Settling Out of Court
The Story Began as a Tall Tale by Chris Kyle That Led to a Defamation Suit Against Him Because He Refused to Recant and Apologize to Jesse VenturaChris Kyle, who is billed as having the most confirmed kills by a sniper in U.S. military history [he served in the Navy from 1999 to 2009, including four tours in Iraq, where he was credited with more than 160 kills (he claims he killed 255)], wrote in his book, American Sniper, published in January 2012, that he punched out a celebrity, who he nicknamed "Scruff Face," on October 12, 2006 at a Navy SEAL bar, McP's Irish Pub, in Coronado, California, after "Scruff Face" said the SEALs “deserved to lose a few” in war.
Although the book's published version didn't name Ventura, earlier drafts of it did, according to documents the defendants turned over to Ventura's lawyers. Kyle's attorney told the judge in the pretrial hearing in federal court in Minneapolis in December 2012 that when the publisher wanted to use Ventura's name, Kyle asked them not to. "He said, 'No, I don't want to do that. I don't want to embarrass anybody who's a member of the brotherhood'."
Kyle (a father of two, was 32 at the time of the alleged incident) said in media interviews while promoting his book that “Scruff Face” was Jesse Ventura (he is 23 years Kyle's senior and also a father of two, Tyrel and Jade).
Ventura — former mayor of Brooklyn Park Minnesota, former governor of Minnesota, former WWF wrestler, actor, producer, trained Navy SEAL, and military veteran who served in the U.S. Navy 1969–1975 — said the whole episode was fabricated.
Ventura, who was known as Jim Janos, completed BUD/S, Basic Underwater Demolition/SEALs training [Ventura graduated from Class #58 of BUD/S training; he followed his older brother, Jan Janos, Class #49, 1969]. From September 11, 1969 to September 10, 1975, during the Vietnam War era, Ventura served in the United States Navy. While on active duty, from January 5, 1970 to December 10, 1973, Ventura was part of Underwater Demolition Team 12 [as was his brother, Jan]. According to the United States Naval Special Warfare Command policy, Ventura is entitled to use the title "SEAL" due to both his service in the UDT and SEAL teams and his successful graduation from UDT-R (now BUD/S) training. The first SEAL teams were created from UDT personnel in the 1960s, with the remaining UDT units redesignated as SEAL Delivery Vehicle Teams in the 1980s. [Source]
Ventura went through and graduated BUD/s training — that's what you had to go through to become a SEAL. At the time Ventura was in the military, when you graduated BUD/s you were assigned to either SEALs or UDT — it was just luck of the draw [in Ventura's case, his brother Jan requested that he be assigned to his team, UDT 12]. If you were assigned to SEALs, you went on and received additional training — some of which UDT members didn't get. But, if you were assigned to UDT, you also received additional training — some of which SEALs didn't get. Just like not all SEALs today get the same training — you get the training you need for the job you're assigned to do. If you are a SEAL today and you're assigned to, say, a sniper element, your going to get sniper training that SEALs who aren't assigned to a sniper element aren't going to get. That doesn't make the non-sniper SEALs not SEALs. The real difference between SEALs and UDT back in those days was just a role assignment. In the early 1980s the Navy decided to form both UDT and SEALs into a single group. When they did, ALL active UDT at that time became SEALs automatically — because they always had been, for all effective purposes, two different factions of the same group. If Ventura hadn't have been retired at the time they amalgamated the two groups, Ventura would have automatically become a SEAL. [Source]American Sniper, Chris Kyle, Punched Jesse Ventura - Opie Radio on SiriusXM, 01-04-2012
Kyle's book, American Sniper, hit shelves on January 3, 2012. The next day, on The Opie & Anthony Show on SiriusXM radio (video above), Kyle first identified “Scruff Face” as Ventura:
“He told us we were killing innocent people over there, men, women, children, that we were all murderers,” Kyle told the SiriusXM talk show. He added: “Then he said we deserved to lose a few guys. … I punched him in the face. Jesse Ventura, he’s an older guy. … He went down … He fell out of his wheelchair.”On January 9, 2012, Ventura called into the Alex Jones Show and said that he never made the statements and that the confrontation never happened.
Ventura also posted an explanation on his Facebook page:
“The event this man spoke of never happened. I have been to McP’s many times since leaving the Navy. I was never there alone. I was always accompanied by other people. If this happened 6 years ago, someone would have known of it before now. Certainly in the UDT/SEAL community it would have been known. This has to be news to all of us. I have always opposed the war in Iraq but I have never spoken or wished any ill will towards the soldiers. My heart aches that soldiers have died or been wounded because this war should never have taken place. I am perplexed over the agenda this man has and why a fellow Navy SEAL would tell a lie about an event that never happened. Clearly, between this story and the previous week’s story about supposedly getting pulled over for tailgating in CA, that was also a lie, someone is out to destroy my credibility. I find it very interesting that both these stories are being spread by Fox news and its affiliates. As a Navy veteran you realize you can’t believe every sea story you hear. Let me finish by stating both of the recent two national stories about me are completely untrue lies, neither event ever happened.”A HarperCollins' editor wrote in an email that the publicity from the story was “priceless.” With encouragement from publicists to keep talking about Ventura, in an additional radio segment and in an interview on The O'Reilly Factor (video below), Kyle continued to identify “Scruff Face” as Ventura. Soon after repeating the claim on The O'Reilly Factor, Kyle's book shot to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list, becoming a smash hit for its publisher, HarperCollins. Kyle's publicist said “the so-called 'incident' has helped the book go crazy,” according to emails excerpts.
Navy SEAL Sniper Chris Kyle Tells O'Reilly: I Decked Jesse Ventura, 02-10-2012
No incident like Kyle described was ever reported by the media at the time. And no police reports were ever filed because law enforcement was not called to the pub on October 6, 2006. However, Kyle told Bill O'Reilly that he "took off running" after he sucker-punched Ventura because "the cops were there."
Kyle's five-hour deposition, videotaped a year before his death, offered a glimpse of how he struggled to rein in the story after the book came out — even as his publishers seemed to relish the attention it brought:
Ventura was first identified when Kyle promoted the book on "The Opie & Anthony Show." A caller asked if the passage referred to Ventura. Kyle seemed surprised, but confirmed it was. It came up again in later radio and television appearances. In an email, his publicist described the interest surrounding the book as "hot hot hot!" Less than a week after the book's release, Kyle got an email from his publicist, according to testimony from the deposition. "I'm going to call you about Jesse V.," she wrote. "Is there a problem?" he asked. "No," she wrote, "but Jesse V. has come out and said it never happened." Kyle said he was growing weary of the story and the controversy it generated. In an email to his publishers, he asked: "When is this going to end?" Jim DeFelice, one of his co-authors, gave Kyle some suggestions on how to handle the issue, according to the deposition. "Give the people that ask enough of what they want to satisfy them," DeFelice wrote in an email. He told Kyle to put the story in perspective with "the usual Chris Kyle smile" and his Texas charm.Ventura filed a lawsuit against Kyle on February 23, 2012 for defamation. Ventura offered to settle out of court if Kyle agreed to admit he lied about the incident and pay Ventura’s attorney fees, but Kyle refused to recant the story and restore Ventura's reputation:
In the videotape shown to the jury, Kyle answered media questions that focused on identifying Ventura. "(It) shocked me. It was a question I was not ready for," Kyle said. Kyle said he tried to downplay that part of the book in favor of the heroic exploits of his fellow SEALs and his own dexterity as America's "most lethal" sniper. "I would gloss over it," said Kyle, "then try to get away from it…I did not feel that the general public needed to hear bickering between two SEALs." Kyle also said in the deposition, "I never figured it would come out who he was." However, he stuck to the story. "It is not libel, because it is true," he said.
Right after the book’s release, Ventura said he met Kyle “face to face” and asked him to admit he made up the story and apologize. “I told him ... that if he did that, we could shake hands and go our separate ways. But he would not do it... When you’re accused of treason, you’re going to fight it.”At a pretrial hearing in federal court in Minnesota in December 2012, Ventura was granted a motion to amend the original suit to include punitive damages, claiming that Kyle acted with "reckless disregard" when he wrote about the alleged punch in his book.
Click here to read the trial brief (excerpts below).
On February 2, 2013, a year after the original suit was filed and as the case was making its way through the legal system, Kyle, along with a friend, was fatally shot on a Texas gun range. Former marine Eddie Ray Routh, who had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, psychosis and severe mental illness, confessed to the murders. Routh had been a small arms technician who served in Iraq and was deployed to earthquake-ravaged Haiti before leaving the Marines in 2010.
Eddie Routh's mother, who worked as an aide at the Kyle kids' school, was the person who asked Kyle to take on her son in a program to help rehabilitate wounded and troubled veterans through exercise. The program, sponsored by Fitness Cares Foundation, was established in 2011; however, the company, Fitness Cares, or FITCO, "an elite fitness equipment industry," approached Kyle in 2012 to help promote the foundation by using his name to raise funds. In 2013, the foundation raised $263,067 in private donations: $112,603 (or 43% of funds raised) was used to purchase fitness equipment from the company, FITCO, to then give to veterans; and $96,583 (or 37% of funds raised) was spent on indirect costs/overhead (which included $26,485 for salaries, although none of the seven directors are paid, and a suspicious $11,406 for payroll taxes); leaving $53,881 (or 20% of funds raised) in donations to be invested ($10,014 of the fund balance was used to payoff expenses that exceeded revenue from the previous year).
Kyle agreed to work with Routh a week before the fateful trip to the gun range. Kyle and his neighbor and hunting buddy, Chad Littlefield — a facilities and logistics manager with a lab in DeSoto, Texas, who was not a veteran — decided to take Routh shooting on February 2, 2013. However, no one in Routh's inner circle, including Routh himself, knew that Kyle was planning to pick him up that day: Kyle made multiple calls to Routh's home phone that day, the last call being around noon, before he pulled into Routh's driveway at 1:07 p.m.
For years the Routh family sought help through the Veterans Health Administration but found themselves adrift in a system struggling to meet the demands spurred by a decade of war and the aging veterans of past conflicts. In 2004, the V.A. Inspector General called the Dallas facility the worst in the nation; in 2012, a Dallas TV station interviewed veterans who alleged that the facility was so poor that it put “lives at risk.”
Routh had been in and out of a psychiatric hospital and the Veterans Affairs hospital in Dallas three times in the months leading up to the killings, and area police reports documented Routh’s mental problems.
Six months before a hunting guide found Kyle and Littlefield's bodies, police caught up with a shirtless, shoeless Routh walking the streets of his hometown. He was crying and smelled of alcohol, police said. His mother told police that Routh had just had an argument with his father who said he was going to sell Routh's gun. Routh left the house, threatening to "blow his brains out," she said. The former Marine was suffering from PTSD, though his family didn't understand what he was going through, according to a September 2, 2012, police report. He would be placed in protective custody and sent to Green Oaks Hospital in Dallas for mental evaluation.On February 2, 2013, Kyle, driving his custom, black Ford-350 truck, and Littlefield, who was in the passenger's seat, picked up Routh at his home and drove him two hours to a shooting range. Routh was looking forward to an excursion with Kyle: “He needed someone to validate what he was feeling, that it was O.K. for other people to go through it,” his girlfriend said. However, when Routh awoke on February 2, 2013, he, along with his girlfriend and his parents (who were out of town), did not know Kyle was coming by to pick him up. Kyle called Routh at him home multiple times that day, the last time at 12:30 p.m., before pulling into his driveway at 1:07 p.m.
On January 19, 2013, Routh and his girlfriend were hanging around her apartment when he fell into a state of paranoia. He began ranting to her and her roommate about government-surveillance activities. He once told a friend that the helicopters overhead were watching him. Outbursts of this nature had become more frequent. He made sure to cover the camera on his computer (“He felt very strongly about that,” his mother said), and confided to family and friends, “They know what we’re doing.” He also worried that he would be forced to return to Iraq. And yet, for all his distress, Routh sometimes contemplated going back into the service. “He had a lot of guilt that he wasn’t still in the Marines, overseas helping people,” his girlfriend said. Inside the apartment, Routh began pacing in front of the door, clutching a knife. He said that he was prepared to defend her from government agents who were out to get them. For hours, she tried, unsuccessfully, to calm him. Finally, her roommate texted the police, who arrested Routh and took him to Green Oaks psychiatric hospital. He was transferred to the Dallas V.A. the next day.
After Routh arrived at the Dallas V.A., his mother and girlfriend visited him in the evenings. A week later, he did not seem much better. He was taking several medications, and his mother felt that he could hardly carry on a conversation. She urged the doctors to keep him hospitalized, at least until he was stable. Ignoring his mother's request, the V.A. discharged Routh the next day. When his mother drove to the V.A. to pick up her son, he was already out, wandering in the parking lot. She brought him home and told him about Chris Kyle. “I said, ‘This guy has a big reputation. He’s a really good man and he really wants to help you.’ And then he’s like, ‘Mom, that is so awesome’,” his mother recalled. “Eddie was happy. He could feel that somebody wanted to help him, somebody that understood better than me.”
Photo Shown by Prosecutors of Routh and His Girlfriend, Who Met on a Dating Website in March 2012
The next few days were difficult. Routh's girlfriend, who is Catholic, said he was fixated on “demons and devils.” He went with her to Mass on Sunday, hoping that it would help him. At home with his mother, Routh fluctuated between being angry and wound up, and being dazed and emotionless. “I could see him having flashbacks,” his mother recalled. “You know when you’re daydreaming? You just kind of get that glaze in your eyes? That was what was happening to Eddie. I knew what he was seeing was not good, ’cause he looked like a scared little child. He didn’t look like a man.” At night, he popped out of bed at the slightest sound, running into his mother’s bedroom to make sure that she was safe. “I thought someone was trying to get you,” he told her. His mother said that during the day “he still wasn’t able to carry on a good conversation. He wasn’t making good sense. He was crying a lot. He would come lay down in our bedroom. We’d bring in the dog and lay in the bed and he’d say, ‘Mom, will you hold my hand? I’m so scared. I don’t feel good. I’m not good’.” As she held him, Routh said, “I just wish you could be in my head for just a second, just so you could know what I’m feeling like.” She told him: “I wish I could. I would take it from you.”
On January 30, 2013, Routh's mother brought him back to the V.A. for a follow-up appointment. As a psychiatrist reviewed his chart, he noted that Routh had been prescribed only half the recommended dosage of risperidone — a powerful antipsychotic that has been widely used in V.A. hospitals to treat PTSD. The psychiatrist adjusted the prescription and ordered the medication to be sent to the Routh house in two days. Routh's mother was livid. When the psychiatrist questioned Routh, he looked to his mom. “He just wasn’t capable of speaking for himself,” she told the reporter. She explained to the psychiatrist that Routh wasn’t sleeping and “couldn’t think straight.” She pleaded with the psychiatrist to readmit him to the hospital, where “he’s not going to be a danger to others or to himself.” But the psychiatrist, according to Routh's mother, shook his head and said that hospitalization wasn’t necessary. Routh's mother then asked the psychiatrist if he could refer Routh to a residential program in Waco, Texas, for people with PTSD. The psychiatrist told her, “He’s not stable enough for that program.” He instructed Routh to come back in two weeks. His mother recalled: “I thought, Two weeks! That’s a long time. I told the doctor, ‘You know, he can’t even answer your questions! He can’t even carry on a conversation. I really think he needs to be in the hospital’.”
While Routh sat in the backseat by himself with a small arsenal of guns and ammo, Kyle and his friend Littlefield, both of whom Routh had never met, sent text messages to each other about him, barely speaking to Routh. Kyle's text to Littlefield read, "This dude is straight up nuts." Littlefield texted back: "He's [sitting] right behind me, watch my 6," a military term for "watch my back." During the drive, Routh, who was under psychiatric care and taking anti-psychotic prescription medications (one being Risperidone, used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, with side effects that include aggressive behavior, agitation and anxiety), became convinced that the two men intended to kill him.
When they arrived at the resort around 3 PM, they turned up a snaking, 3-mile road toward the lodge, where Kyle parked in front of the main lodge and went inside with Littlefield to register, leaving Routh alone in the backseat of the truck. Then then drove another few miles to the remote shooting range. Kyle was given "exclusive access to the range" as was the case whenever "he came out" to the resort. On the day of the fatal shootings, he said he was going to use the range for about 45 minutes, a resort employee testified.
Shortly after arriving at the the shooting range, Kyle and Littlefield were shot at close range multiple times. With one handgun, Kyle was shot six times, including one shot that struck several major arteries and damaged his lungs. One shot went through his cheek and struck his spinal cord. Several of the shots were considered “rapidly fatal.” With another handgun, Littlefield was shot seven times, including four that would have been instantly fatal. One bullet went through the top of his head, indicating it was likely fired while Littlefield was on his knees. Testimony from the person who conducted the autopsies proves that all the shots, except maybe one, went through his front side. One of those shots traveled through his mid-section, causing massive internal bleeding. The shot to the palm of his left hand exited the front of his hand and could have been one of the shots that hit his face, neck and chest. The shot that the coroner said entered through his back seemed more likely to have entered from the front upper chest, exiting through his lower back. For two years prosecutors claimed that Kyle was shot four times in the back and Littlefield was shot five times in the back, but this is false. They continued to propagate this lie before the jury during testimony in Eddie Ray Routh's murder trial in February 2015.
Barnard said the neither Kyle nor Littlefield had a chance of survival.
NOTE: Click here to read the testimony of Dr. Jeffery Barnard, who conducted the autopsies on Kyle and Littlefield, and Howard Ryan, a forensic operation specialist from New Jersey. Both testified for the prosecution.
The bodies were found by a hunting guide around 5 PM. Littlefield's body was found on a shooting platform, while Kyle's body was found a few yards away in the dirt in front of the elevated platform. "Chris was face-down with his nose in the dirt," said a former resort employee who discovered the bodies. "Chad was on the platform on his back." Both men were armed with .45-caliber 1911-style pistols when they were killed, but neither gun had been unholstered or fired, and the safeties were still on. Prosecutors have not elaborated on how Routh initiated the attack or whether he opened fire on the two men at the same time. Kyle was killed with a .45-caliber pistol, while Littlefield was shot with a 9mm Sig Sauer handgun. Both guns belonged to Kyle, and the Sig Sauer was found in Routh’s possession later that night. The only loaded weapons at the crime scene were the two 1911-style handguns that were in Kyle and Littlefield's waistband holsters, with their safeties on.
Courtroom Photo of a Diagram Showing the Position of Littlefield's Body When It Was Found
Shooting Platform at Crime Scene: Kyle and Littlefield's Bodies Cropped from Image
After leaving the scene in Kyle's truck, Routh stopped briefly at his uncle's house and then drove to the home of his sister and brother-in-law, 65 miles away from the gun range. He admitted to the killings and told his sister, "People were sucking his soul." He left their home in Kyle's truck and headed to his parents' small home in Lancaster, where he had been living. He’d gone home to get his dog and planned to drive to Oklahoma. His sister called 911, telling the operator he claimed to have killed two men. "He said that he killed two guys. They went out to a shooting range. Like, he's all crazy. He's f***ing psychotic. I'm sorry for my language." Routh's sister, who drove with her husband to the police station immediately after calling 911, told police that her brother "was out of his mind, saying people were sucking his soul and that he could smell the pigs." Routh's sister told The New Yorker that her brother said “he killed them” — Kyle and Littlefield — “before they could kill him; he said he couldn’t trust anyone anymore.”
Routh's Sister's Terrified 911 Call
In Routh's sister's 911 call (video above), she does not say that her brother told her that "I sold my soul for a truck," which was reported by the mainstream media. The person who said that is Randy Fowler, an investigator with the Erath County Sheriff’s Department in Texas. Fowler wrote in the affidavit: "Routh drove to his sister’s home in Midlothian, about 50 miles from the gun range where the shooting took place, shortly after the incident. Routh was driving what his sister, Laura Blevins, described as a 'big dark or black Ford F-250 pickup that she had never seen before.' It substantiated Routh’s claim that he had murdered Chris Kyle and his friend, and he told the Blevinses that he had killed Kyle and that he had 'traded his soul for a new truck'." Routh's sister told The New Yorker that her brother asked her if the world was freezing over, then announced that he had a new truck. She then asked if he had traded in his car, a Volkswagen Beetle; he said no, but added, “I sold my soul for a truck.” It is this statement that the defense is using as a motivation for the crime, rather than insanity due to Routh's severe mental illnesses. It is important to note that there was no other vehicle at the crime scene when Routh drove off in Kyle's truck, so it was the only vehicle he could take to flee the scene.
Officers were waiting for Routh that evening when he arrived at his parent's home. A police video displayed for the jury at Routh's trial, which began on February 11, 2015, showed police at Routh's home trying to coax him from Kyle's pickup. Officers in the video are seen trying to talk Routh into surrendering as he makes comments such as: "The [expletive deleted] anarchy has been killing the world," "I can feel everybody feeding on my soul," "Is this about hell walking on earth right now?," "Is voodoo all around us?," and "I didn't sleep a wink last night at all." He also expressed concerns about being stalked by cats and at one point announced, "I need to take a nap" and said he wanted his parents to come home (his parent were out of town). "There's no trust anymore," the video showed Routh saying.
Police Dashboard Camera Show Officers Arresting Eddie Ray Routh
One police officer, who happened to be a neighbor of Routh’s, was recorded by his body camera telling him: “I don’t want to hurt you, buddy. We all grew up together here.” Routh reportedly told the police officer: “It happened so fast. I don’t know if I’m going insane.” Kyle refused to leave the vehicle and eventually sped off with police in pursuit. He stopped six minutes later after a police vehicle rammed into the truck. Police video showed Routh opening the driver's-side door, emerging with his hands up, and sinking to the ground. He surrendered peacefully, police said. An officer is seen on the footage giving himself the sign of the cross.
Routh told police: "It wasn't a want to. It was a need to, to get out of that situation out there today or I was going to be the one out there to get my head shot off."
Eddie Ray Routh in Custody
Weapons and Shooting Platform at Crime Scene with Rifle That Kyle Had Shot Just Prior to His Death
Weapons, Shooting Platform and Crime Scene Markers
Kyle's Custom, Black Ford-350 at Crime Lab
"When he took their lives, he was in the grip of a psychosis," Routh's court-appointed defense attorney said, "a psychosis so severe that he did not know what he was doing was wrong." The defense said Routh's psychosis kicked in during the two-hour drive to the gun range as he sat amid "an arsenal" of guns large enough to support "a small army." During the drive, Routh apparently became convinced that the two men intended to kill him. Their texting back and forth to each other about Routh as he watched from the back seat, no doubt, had something to do with it. "He thought he had to take their lives because he was in danger," Routh's attorney said. According to an affidavit, Routh told his brother-in-law he "couldn't trust them, so he killed them before they could kill him."
According to reports on the opening days of his trial, Routh had a "fitful" last night before the killings. He proposed to his girlfriend (who accepted the proposal) but also paced throughout the home, warning her not to speak out loud "because people were listening."
The prosecution is alleging that Routh drank whiskey that fateful morning and may have smoked "wet" marijuana (cannabis laced with formaldehyde) before getting into Kyle's truck. A Texas ranger found Routh's anti-psychotic prescription medications (one being Risperidone, used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, with side effects that include aggressive behavior, agitation and anxiety), a whiskey bottle on the table, a bong, and rolling papers when he searched Routh's home after the arrest. However, on cross examination, the ranger said he saw no evidence that Routh was intoxicated or under drug influence at time of his arrest.
Routh's uncle, James Watson, 45, testifying for the prosecution, said the two of them smoked non-laced marijuana between 30 minutes and an hour and a half before Routh left to go to the gun range, and said that they may have had whiskey that morning. Watson was at Routh's home because Routh's then-girlfriend was concerned for his well-being after the two had argued that morning. The previous evening, Routh had proposed to Jen. “We were in the kitchen,” she recalled. “I was getting him his medicine. I turned around, and he got to one knee and asked me to marry him.” Routh didn’t have a ring — he was broke — but pledged to save up for one. Jen accepted the proposal, and spent the night at Routh's home. They got into an argument the next morning, however, and she left around 10 AM.
Prosecutors, trying to support their contention that Routh's motivation for the crime was to steal Kyle's truck, also had Routh's uncle testify about the truck. After Routh left the crime scene, he first drove to his uncle's home, where he stopped briefly. Watson testified that Rough said: "Check out my truck. I'm driving a dead man’s truck." On the "dead man's truck" comment, Watson testified: "I thought he was talking about himself... he would often make bizarre comments like that."
On deferred adjudication for assault on a paramedic in Johnson County, Texas, Watson denies he made any deal with prosecutors. Watson testified that he grew up with Routh and that he learned about religion and morality from his family. “We’re God-fearing people," he said. When the prosecutor asked, "Does he have a sense of morality?," Watson replied: "Yes, he does." When the prosecutor asked, "Does he know right from wrong?," Watson replied, "Yes, he does."
Routh’s attorney is making the case that his client is not guilty by reason of insanity. In opening statements he said that Routh was suffering from severe mental illness at the time of the crime and could not tell right from wrong. Prosecutors have described Routh as a troubled drug user who used marijuana and whiskey the day of the killings, but say he knew right from wrong despite any history of mental illnesses.
Part of the grand jury indictment of Eddie Ray Routh, handed down on July 24, 2013, was the judge’s gag order, effective immediately: "Due to the 'unusually emotional nature' of the case, its 'unique nature of security issues' and the 'extensive local and national media coverage' that it has already received, the judge directed all relevant law enforcement and judicial bodies, as well as Routh and his family, to refrain from any interaction with the media that might 'interfere with the defendant’s right to a fair trial'." Despite the gag order, Routh’s lawyer was able to say his client will plead not guilty by reason of insanity and that he planned to present evidence Routh was suffering from pyschosis and severe mental illness when he killed Kyle and Littlefield.
The gag order applied only to the Routh family: the Kyle and Littlefield families were free to speak to the media. In an interview with The Los Angeles Times in January 2015, widow Taya Kyle said she believes the PTSD defense is a cop out.
Houston criminal defense attorney George Parnham said Routh — who has been imprisoned since the 2013 murders — is at a disadvantage because of the gag order issued on his family members and attorneys in 2013. At the time, the judge said he was issuing it because of the “unusually emotional nature of the issues involved in the case.” In light of the movie, Parnham said the gag order is now unfair. He explained: “It’s going to be very difficult for him to get a fair trial, not only because of the movie, but because of the media surrounding the movie. Mr. Kyle is a hero in many people’s eyes. Due to the fact that this movie has gained intense public attention, it’s doubtful that a fair jury can be selected anywhere.” Anticipating that finding an unbiased jury would be difficult, Kyle's court-appointed attorney filed a motion in 2013 to change the location of the trial, but it was denied.
Before the gag order, on February 27, 2013, it was reported that Jodi Routh, Eddie Ray Routh's mother, thanked the family of Chris Kyle for trying to help her son: "Jodi Routh hoped Chris Kyle could help her son 25-year-old, who was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Eddie Routh is currently on medication and finally agreed to see his family. Today it was his mother Jodi and father Raymond who released an statement, expressing their sorrow their son caused to the Kyles and Littlefields, as well as thanking Kyle for trying to help her son." The family issued the following statement:
"Raymond and I want to express our deepest condolences to the Kyle and Littlefield families. We are incredibly heartbroken for your loss. We wish we could thank Chris Kyle for his genuine interest in helping our son overcome his battle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We want others with PTSD to know their struggle is recognized and we hope this tragedy will somehow help in getting greater care for and assistance to those in need. No words can truly express the sorrow we feel for the Kyles and Littlefields, their extended family and friends. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with you all." – The Routh Family
Click here for more crime scene photos, a timeline, and testimony from his trial.
The Defamation Lawsuit Continued Against Kyle's Estate After His Tragic DeathAfter Kyle's death, the court allowed Ventura to refile the suit, with Kyle's estate being substituted as the defendant in the case. Kyle's widow, Taya, is executor of his estate. At trial, Kyle would appear in a video deposition and other media clips already entered into evidence.
Ventura appeared on RT.com on January 28, 2015 (video below) to explain his lawsuit against Kyle's estate.
‘To be a hero, you must have honor’ – Jesse Ventura on “American Sniper” and SEAL Chris Kyle
Kyle's story about Ventura is all a lie. Completely fabricated. Totally untrue. But Kyle stood behind his lies and stood back as he witnessed the barrage of negative press and social media attacks on the man he defamed with his lies.
A "man" stands for the truth. Ventura is defending his honor. He was falsely accused by Kyle.
On his Ora.tv podcast, Off the Grid, which premiered in January 2014, Ventura commented about the lies Kyle told about him (click here for video).
"Former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura is back with a new talk show, Off the Grid, for Ora.tv, the online network co-owned by talk show host Larry King, Mexico's Carlos Slim and former News Corp. exec Jon Housman. The former wrestler-turned-politician says he's been shunned by the mainstream TV media, so he wanted to go around them by speaking directly to online viewers. 'No one's standing over my head telling me what I can say,' he says. 'I have complete freedom'." [Source]Ventura pursued his lawsuit even after Kyle was killed, saying it was important to clear his name. From the time he published the bar-fight story in his book and up until his death, Kyle maintained that the story was accurate, even swearing to it under oath in a five-hour videotaped deposition. However, only one key witness, Jeremiah Dinnell, testified that he saw Kyle punch Ventura. Below is a summary of his incredible testimony.
Another defense witness, Laura deShazo, sister to a Navy SEAL who is Kyle's friend, was the first witness to testify. She said she saw Ventura get punched. Suspiciously, it wasn't until seven years after the fact, nearly two years after the book was published, and 10 months after the fact discovery cutoff that deShazo made her declarations about the events at the bar on October 12, 2006. At trial, she testified that she had gone to the the crowded bar to attend the wake of the SEAL and friend of the family who was killed in Iraq. She said that at the bar she met Ventura and had her picture taken (it was shown to the jury). She then said she saw Ventura involved in a "scuffle" with a man she did not recognize, adding: "I saw Mr. Ventura get hit. I believe it was a punch." Asked how confident she was that it was Ventura who was punched, deShazo replied, "Confident."
Ventura moved in limine to preclude deShazo (and her sister) from testifying because they were not timely disclosed. See below for the excerpted trial brief on deShazo's testimony.
Kyle had a habit of telling tall tales, especially when he was drinking, like the night at McP's in 2006, when he twisted what Ventura said and lied about punching him out. Another fairy tale he told when drinking, which was published in the June 2013 issue of The New Yorker, was that in the days after Hurricane Katrina he and another sniper traveled to New Orleans, set up on top of the Superdome, and proceeded to shoot dozens of armed residents who were contributing to the chaos. Click here for an excellent exposé on Kyle's tales, plus see the excerpted trial brief below, which includes other tall tales by Kyle.
"His stories are so fantastical that only a true believer could ever think them anything other than fairy tales. Kyle's widow, Taya, fought in court to make sure two of the stories were kept out of Ventura's defamation lawsuit because she didn't want her husband to be 'labelled a liar.' The stories were kept out of the lawsuit, and yet, incredibly, Ventura still proved Kyle was lying about the bar room fight (or non-fight, as it turned out)."
Dinnell and DeShazo's testimonies that they saw Ventura get punched are at odds with two former SEALs and friends of Ventura's (Mike Gotchey and Bill DeWitt), who testified that they saw no fight, and the wife of one of the friends (Charlene DeWitt), who said she sat near Ventura the entire night and saw no fight.
Bill Dewitt, who graduated in the same Underwater Demolition Class as Ventura, testified for several hours about the night at the California bar in 2006. He said many younger SEALs approached Ventura, and 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):
Bill DeWitt said he saw Ventura mingling in civil fashion with the younger SEALs. If he or his colleagues had seen any sign of a fight with their classmate, he said, they'd have jumped in.Bill DeWitt's wife, Charlene, had never met Ventura but said she tried to sit near him because she didn't know many people there and figured he would be interesting:
"You'd have had a whole bunch of 60-year-olds all over you," he said. If he had heard Ventura say SEALs deserved to die, "I'd have been first in line" to confront him about it, DeWitt said. A petition circulated in 2013 seeking to have Ventura removed from the Underwater Demolition Team-SEAL Association, citing the events described in Kyle's book and Ventura's pursuit of the lawsuit after Kyle's death. Dozens of military personnel signed it. When the petition came to DeWitt, he said, he sent it back, saying, "you weren't there."
“I was eavesdropping on Jesse,” Charlene DeWitt said. She heard him criticize the war in Iraq but didn’t hear him badmouth fallen soldiers or argue with younger servicemen. She said she didn’t see him get into a fistfight or sport a black eye or bruised face in the following days. The most memorable thing he said, she recalled, was, "I don't think this war is worth one SEAL dying for." She also spent time around Ventura over the next few days. There were no signs of the bar fight Kyle described in the book, DeWitt said, nor any gossip or buzz it had occurred.Ventura's witnesses were very consistent in denying seeing anything like Kyle described.
On the other hand, Kyle's witnesses told a variety of tales, none of which the jury found convincing. They gave such conflicting accounts, one of the jurors pointed out that it was very difficult to accept anything they were saying because their testimonies were "all over the place."
The following charts were created by Kyle's defense team.
Eight people testified for the defense that they either heard Ventura say the SEALs "deserved to lose a few," saw a discussion between Kyle and Ventura before the punch, saw Kyle punch Ventura, saw Ventura on the ground or get up from the ground, or heard about or discussed the event within 24 hours of the alleged incident. Kyle's witnesses gave different locations for where the fight occurred. Their stories were inconsistent and unbelievable. Ventura was able to prove that he took blood thinners which made him bruise easily and was able to produce photos taken the next day, after the alleged fight, that did not show any evidence of bruising.
Kyle himself told a variety of versions of the incident. Kyle had an opportunity to defend himself in a deposition videotaped a year before his death; however, in it tripped up on details showed some memory lapses because it's hard to keep your lies straight:
In the deposition, while calmly stating that the fight had indeed occurred and that he had punched Ventura in the face, Kyle also conceded that Ventura may not have used a vulgarity in describing former President George W. Bush, which Kyle wrote in the book was one of the reasons he struck him. Kyle acknowledged he had no direct knowledge of some of details in his story. For example, in his book, he wrote “rumor has it” he gave Ventura a black eye. According to the documents, Kyle told ghostwriter DeFelice that he punched Ventura in the eye, Ventura fell and hit his head, and Ventura appeared on television several days later with a black eye. Kyle said he could not remember who told him that Ventura had hit his head when he fell to the sidewalk, could not recall how he learned that Ventura had a black eye, and conceded that tables did not go “flying” during the 2006 confrontation in a bar near San Diego, which he described in his book “American Sniper.”The following is an excerpt from the denial for defendant's motion for summary judgment, filed on March 19, 2014, before the trial, which began on July 8, 2014. It summarizes the depositions of key witnesses.
Ventura's attorneys pointed out elements in the drafts of the book and in tapes and transcripts of phone conversations between Kyle and ghostwriter DeFelice which indicated Kyle had given different versions of what happened on the night of October 12, 2006. Ventura testified that he hasn’t drank alcohol since he began taking a blood thinner in 2002 that causes him to bruise and bleed easily. Pictures of Ventura taken in the days after the supposed fight show no visible injuries. At the time, Ventura was sporting a long, black beard which he wore in a braid. When his attorney asked if there was anyone else at the bar who looked like Ventura, he replied: “Not to my recollection. I think I had the market cornered on that,” prompting some laughter in the courtroom. In addition, Ventura testified, no one at the SEAL events in the following few days ever mentioned a confrontation.
Ventura Won the Defamation Case and was Awarded $1.845 Million ($500,000 in 'Defamation Damages' to be Paid by HarperCollins' Insurer and $1.345 Million for 'Unjust Enrichment' to be Paid by Kyle's Estate)Legal experts had anticipated that it would be a tough case for Ventura to win. It's extremely difficult to win a defamation case in U.S. courts because of the First Amendment. Not only is it diffcult, but public personalities have an even higher bar to pass to win these kinds of suits. Besides having to prove that Kyle's story was untrue, Ventura had to prove that Kyle acted deliberately with malice — that is, with knowledge that statements were false or with “reckless disregard” for their falsity. Very few defamation plaintiffs can make it over the high bar of actual malice.
That said, apparently the evidence presented to the jury showed that Kyle and his witnesses lied; therefore, despite the very high burden of proof, Ventura won. Jurors did not believe Ventura mouthed off and insulted SEALs in a SEAL's bar after a SEAL's wake on the day before a SEAL's graduation ceremony and his own class reunion.
"At his inauguration, Ventura described SEAL training as the toughest experience of his life. 'It's worse than anything you can imagine,' he said, 'You have to want it bad, very bad.' Ventura always mentioned how much he respected his SEAL instructor Master Chief Petty Officer Terry 'Mother' Moy. He asked Moy to stand by his side when he was sworn in as governor of Minnesota. He ended his inaugural address with the SEAL war cry 'HOOYAH!' He is considered one of the SEALs' most famous alumni [other than Marcus Luttrel and Chris Kyle]." [Source]The jury found in Ventura's favor 8-2. Under the usual rules, a federal trial in Minnesota must be retried if a jury fails to reach a unanimous decision. But when the Ventura jurors failed to reach a verdict after several days of deliberations, defense and plaintiffs attorneys agreed to accept a split verdict, and jurors found 8-2 against the defense.
On July 29, 2014, the jury awarded a judgment of $1.845 million to Ventura: $500,000 in defamation damages to be paid by HarperCollins' insurer and $1.345 million for “unjust enrichment” to be paid by Kyle's estate. Ventura has said the case isn't about money: "It's about clearing my name. It's a lie." He also said publicity that Kyle got from interviews about the alleged incident helped Kyle's book sales and led to the film option.
When asked in the November 2012 deposition how Kyle's book had damaged him, Ventura said his job offers dried up after the book was published, and he was worried about being seen as a traitor to the military:
"I never had to really go out seeking anything until very recently," he said about job offers. "Usually, it came to me. But within the last year, they ain't been coming."During the trial, Ventura testified he made about $11 million between 2002 and 2012, but his tax forms showed his income declining from a high of $3.8 million in 2003 to $190,378 in 2012. Ventura has long said his lawsuit wasn't about money anyway: it was about trying to restore his reputation. Ventura testified that since American Sniper was published in 2012, he no longer feels welcome at Navy SEAL reunions. Ventura's attorney said that the testimony of 11 SEAL community members called by the defense was hard for Ventura to hear: "Because he did have to listen to these young SEALs say all of these terrible things about him, and there's probably a lot more people like them out there in the SEAL community."
In reference to his worrying about being seen as a traitor to the military, Ventura said, "It's affected me emotionally; it's affected me how — how I feel now, how I'll be perceived by the rest of the military, how I could be perceived by them, that I'm some sort of traitor to the Teams."
After the verdict, Ventura expressed a mixture of satisfaction and remorse in an interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
“I am overjoyed that my reputation was restored, but the emotion is [about] what’s been taken from me. I can’t go to SEAL reunions anymore. That was the place I always felt safe. Who will be next to throw me under the bus? I’d have to spend my time looking over my shoulder.”
When the verdict was announced, Ventura’s attorney told reporters that they would ask American Sniper publisher HarperCollins to remove the subchapter, which was called “Punching Out Scruff Face.” He said the publisher would be acting at its own risk if it left the passage in. In an interview after the verdict with “CBS This Morning,” Ventura said:
“I plan to visit HarperCollins. They published the book and did no due diligence to find out if the story was true.” Shortly after the verdict, HarperCollins announced that the offending passage would be removed from the book.Full Interview, CBS Minnesota: Jesse Ventura Talks After Trial
On December 14, 2014, Ventura filed a lawsuit against American Sniper publisher HarperCollins, alleging the publicity generated by the book with a "false and defamatory" segment "substantially increased sales of the book, thereby generating millions of dollars in revenues and profits for HarperCollins." Two HarperCollins employees — the book's editor and publicist — testified during the defamation case against Kyle's estate. They said the Ventura story was a minor element of the book that had little to do with its success. But email exchanges showed the story, and the attention it attracted, caught the publishing company's eye. At one point, an editor sent a link to a news article about the Ventura story, calling it "priceless." Other emails discussed a possible online marketing campaign that would include keywords tied to the Ventura story. One message from the publicist said the incident "has helped the book go crazy.
American Liar: Why Jesse Ventura is Likely to Collect Millions from the Publisher of Chris Kyle’s American SniperAmerican Sniper Chris Kyle was proved a liar by Jesse Ventura, and HarperCollins may owe the former governor millions
By Mark Joseph Stern, Slate
January 20, 2015
Chris Kyle, author of the runaway bestseller American Sniper, was a military hero who killed 160 people during his four tours of duty in Iraq and is now the subject of an Oscar-nominated blockbuster.
He was also a fabulist.
Before his tragic murder in 2013, Kyle told a number of extremely dubious stories. In one tale, Kyle claimed he killed two carjackers at a gas station southwest of Dallas, and that his driver’s license directed local police officers who questioned him to contact the Department of Defense. Kyle also claimed he traveled to post-Katrina New Orleans with a sniper friend, set up his gun atop the Superdome, and picked off dozens of armed looters.
The 160 kills are confirmed by the Pentagon [allegedly]. But there are absolutely no records of, or witnesses to, the latter stories. They are, perhaps intentionally, unverifiable. But it wasn’t these fantastical tales of vigilante justice that got Kyle into legal trouble. It was another, much less exciting story — one that wasn’t just unverifiable, but verifiably false. That tale, conveyed in a mere three pages of American Sniper, has put Kyle’s widow on the hook for US$1.345 million in damages. And it may soon make Kyle’s publishers wish they approached the veteran’s claims with a great deal of skepticism.
Kyle’s legal difficulties emerged from a subchapter of American Sniper titled “Punching Out Scruff Face.” In it, Kyle describes beating up a former Navy SEAL (“Scruff Face”) after the SEAL claims American soldiers deserved to die in Iraq. Early drafts of the book identified the SEAL as Jesse Ventura, former governor of Minnesota and famed professional wrestler “The Body,” but Kyle’s publishers removed the name for fear of a lawsuit.
Nonetheless, in a radio interview following the book’s release, Kyle admitted that “Scruff Face” was Ventura, and he repeated the claim soon after on The O'Reilly Factor. American Sniper shot to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list, becoming a smash hit for its publisher, HarperCollins, selling more than 1.5 million copies by July 2014.
There was, however, a problem: The Ventura story wasn’t true, and Ventura meant to prove it. So he took Kyle to trial, suing him — and, after he died, his estate — for defamation and unjust enrichment. In the United States, defamation cases are extremely difficult to win, thanks to the First Amendment. When allegedly defamatory statements pertain to a public figure, the plaintiff mustn’t just prove those statements were false. He has to prove the defendant made those statements with “actual malice” — that is, knowledge that they were false — or with “reckless disregard” for their falsity. Very few defamation plaintiffs can make it over the high bar of actual malice.
Ventura made it. On July 29, 2014, a U.S. federal jury returned from six days of deliberations to award Ventura US$1.845-million in damages — specifically, US$500,000 for defamation and about US$1.345-million for unjust enrichment. (In order words, Kyle unjustly profited from defaming Ventura, and so his estate must give Ventura some of that money.) Kyle’s widow, Taya Kyle, promptly filed for “judgment as a matter of law,” asking the trial judge to reverse the jury’s verdict because the jury clearly got it wrong. Failing that, she asked for an entirely new trial. The judge denied both requests, defending the jury’s verdict as legally and factually justifiable. Kyle’s widow is currently appealing the decision; her odds of winning appear quite low.
For the Kyle family, then, the legal tribulations surrounding American Sniper are probably wrapping up, and Taya Kyle will likely pay some damages but walk away from the affair with many millions of dollars left to her name. (HarperCollins’ libel insurance, in fact, will cover her defamation damages.)
But for Kyle’s publisher, HarperCollins, the nightmare is just beginning. Several months after the verdict against the Kyle estate, Ventura brought another lawsuit for unjust enrichment, this time against HarperCollins. The lawsuit explains that while Kyle is the one who defamed Ventura, HarperCollins played up those defamatory statements in order to boost its sales — and with reckless disregard to the truth of Kyle’s claims.
This suit is the second of Ventura’s one-two punch, and from here, it looks like a knockout. During the first trial, Ventura’s attorneys uncovered records of HarperCollins’ negligence in fact-checking Kyle’s book, as well as evidence that HarperCollins specifically touted the Ventura story to drum up publicity.
Kyle’s ghostwriters spoke with only one person who claimed to have witnessed the fight, a friend of Kyle’s who told a different version of the story that lacked Ventura’s offensive remarks. No one from HarperCollins contacted Ventura or his representatives to verify the story. And though Kyle claimed Ventura appeared at a SEAL graduation afterward with a black eye — where “everybody was laughing” and asking “Who beat the shit out of him?” — HarperCollins never asked a member of the graduating class whether they saw Ventura’s injury. (A photograph from the event shows a clear image of Ventura — with no black eye.)
It gets worse for HarperCollins. Despite the tenuous source of the Ventura story, HarperCollins quickly saw it as a publicity gold mine. After Kyle identified “Scruff Face” as Ventura in a radio interview on The Opie & Anthony Show, HarperCollins editor Peter Hubbard wrote in an email that the publicity from the story was “priceless.”
HarperCollins publicist Sharon Rosenblum described the Ventura kerfuffle as “hot hot hot,” immediately arranging for Kyle to retell the tale on The O’Reilly Factor. Sales of American Sniper — which, up to that point, were fairly modest — spiked dramatically, apparently in conjunction with interest in the Ventura story.
After the O’Reilly appearance, Ventura publicly denied Kyle’s accusations. Yet Rosenblum arranged for Kyle to tell the story again on The Opie & Anthony Show, and HarperCollins printed several new editions of the book that still featured the “Scruff Face” section. (It was finally removed after Ventura won his suit.)
All of this presents a very big problem for HarperCollins. Ventura’s lawyers believe they can prove that American Sniper’s massive success was spurred, at least initially, by interest in the Ventura story. Under normal circumstances, HarperCollins might fight back by arguing that the story is true. But therein lies the brilliance of Ventura’s maneuvering: A jury has already determined that the Ventura tale is false and defamatory, meaning HarperCollins is legally barred from rearguing its veracity. As a result, HarperCollins must instead argue that it did not act with “reckless disregard” for the truth of Kyle’s claims, and that no part of the company’s profits arose from interest in the Ventura story. Those questions, of course, must be left for a jury to decide. But it does not look very good for HarperCollins.
Don’t pity the publishers too much, though. In the midst of this legal drama, the movie adaption of American Sniper has shattered box office records and brought in well over US$100-million. HarperCollins is sure to make a killing off royalties from the film, and off sales from the new movie tie-in edition of American Sniper. Even if Ventura wins millions in his second lawsuit, the publishing house may well walk away from this debacle with a healthy profit remaining, just as Kyle’s widow will do.
The moral of Kyle’s story, then: It pays to lie.
Chris Kyle Gave 2% of His Proceeds from American Sniper to Charity, Not 100% Like He Claimed, and Taya Kyle is a Multimillionaire Even If Kyle's Estate Pays Ventura the $1.345 Million Judgment for "Unjust Enrichment"Kyle had said he was giving all of his proceeds from American Sniper to widows and orphans of fellow SEALs. However, only $52,000 went to any families, and $26,000 went to Debbie Lee, one of Kyle's witnesses who offered her own version of the events, which didn't jive with the versions offered by Kyle or other witnesses. During testimony, Lee said the Kyles had personally given her $26,000. Taya Kyle testified that the money is part of an effort to disperse income from her late husband’s book to veterans’ causes.
In addition to the multimillion in profits from the book, there were the paid appearances and the movie deal based on the book. Kyle's estate has profited to the tune of $6 million dollars, based on a percentage of $40 million in book sales.
During the defamation lawsuit against Kyle's estate, an attorney for Ventura presented detailed documents and copies of checks showing that royalties for the book and associated payments to Chris Kyle, Taya Kyle and his estate from the movie came to several million dollars. The attorney elicited from Taya Kyle that much of that money went to her agent, attorneys and others connected with the book.
Taya also testified that she and her husband had agreed to donate proceeds from the book to veterans’ causes and had made contributions to two families so far totaling $52,000, but that she was deterred from making more gifts by tax laws. Taya, testified that the couple never intended to profit from the book. In often tearful testimony, she said the couple wanted to donate money to other veterans but were limited by gift tax laws that prevented them from donating more than $13,000 each to two families last year. Taya said her husband didn’t even want to write the book but did so because he didn’t want others to do it instead. She called him “one of the most humble people I ever knew” and said he wanted not to glorify himself but “to throw his flaws on the table.”
During the defamation lawsuit against Kyle's estate, an attorney for Ventura presented detailed documents and copies of checks showing that royalties for the book and associated payments to Chris Kyle, Taya Kyle, and his estate from the movie came to several million dollars (as of June 30, 2013). The attorney elicited from Taya that much of that money went to her agent, attorneys and others connected with the book. She also testified that she and her husband had agreed to donate proceeds from the book to veterans’ causes and had made contributions to two families so far totaling $52,000, but that she was deterred from making more gifts by tax laws. Kyle's attorney argued that she is under constraints because if she gives away too much money now, she might not be able to pay Ventura if she loses the court case. Ventura's attorney suggested in additional questioning of Taya that she could have created a nonprofit and given away much more money than she has. Taya said she had not had the time to set up such a nonprofit [this is a lie: several nonprofits had been setup in Kyle's name at the time of her testimony]. During the trial, court documents showed Kyle's book had earned royalties of more than $3 million (as of June 30, 2013), and the judge ruled that proceeds from an upcoming movie also could be subject to damage.
A lie that has been told ad nauseam is that Chris Kyle and his family donated all the proceeds from the sale of the book American Sniper to families of veterans. The Kyles say that 100% has gone to charities that support other vet families. This is an out and out lie, and a really despicable one that is repeated constantly by the corporate media. The truth is…the family has only given 2% of the profits to charity.Chris Kyle profited quite handsomely from the tales he spun. His widow, Taya Kyle, is not in financial distress, even though she has implied that she must work a regular, 40-hour-per-week job to support her family. In a court document filed on August 5, 2013 by Taya Kyle's new attorney, it states:
The profits from the book belong to the Kyle family, and they should do with them what they please, but what they shouldn't do is tell people they are giving the money away in order to look good, while they, in fact, keep the money.
The Kyle family has made over $6 million from the book, and that number will increase with further book sales and from the movie starring Bradley Cooper and directed by Clint Eastwood.
So why isn't the corporate media up in arms over Kyle and his wife lying repeatedly about the profits and proceeds from the book? Instead of asking Jesse Ventura why he doesn't give the money he is owed back to the Kyle family, why not ask the Kyle family why they keep lying about giving money to vets when they don't?
To further inform yourself, click here for a really thoughtful and smart article at The New Republic that give the facts of the case and dispels the myths that the media is selling. [Source]
"Taya's responsibilities as executor of Chris Kyle's estate include a collection of diverse, complicated issues, ranging from publication and promotion of his posthumously published book "American Guns," to the production of a screen adaptation of American Sniper. To put it starkly, in one fatal moment, Taya went from a stay-at-home mom, who had not worked outside the home in eight years, to a single parent who must work more than 40 hours per week so that she can support her family, as well as advance the charitable causes her husband held dear.”It should be noted that Taya Kyle has setup a foundation in her deceased husband's name from which she will benefit financially. As far as benefiting from the profits of Craft International, the tactical-training company co-founded in 2009 by her husband, of which Taya claimed 85 percent ownership, in a legal filing Craft said the agreement they made with her husband specifically excludes his wife: "Chris Kyle insisted that such a provision be inserted due to the discord in his marriage and his belief that divorce was a very real possibility." In the event of divorce or his death, Chris did not want Taya to have any involvement in Craft aside from being cashed out at fair market value.” In late 2014, Taya reached a deal with Craft: the partners agreed to stop using Kyle's name and image, which now belong to Taya.
Kyle's estate is worth an estimated $5 - $15 million from his book deals and the movie, life insurance (double indemnity clause pays twice the face value for accidental death), and sales of merchandise promoted by charities established in Kyle's name (Forged® has the exclusive contract with Warner Bros. and the foundation Taya runs to market Chris' image). Additionally, Taya receives payment for speaking engagements and a salary for running the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation (eight cities hosted special screenings of "American Sniper" in January 2015 and all tickets sales and donations benefited the CKFF; prices ranged from $25 to $250).
Chris Kyle talked with a reporter from the Texan News Service, a student run paper at Tarleton State University, on January 28, 2013, five days before he was murdered. Click the link and go to the 7-minute mark to hear Kyle evading the question about how many books he's sold and repeating his claim that all the money he's gotten from the book has been given to the families of veterans. Kent Studebaker, Taya Kyle's father, confirmed Kyle had received a $100,000 advance for “American Sniper” (written in 2011-2012) and an additional $700,000 sometime after that, but wouldn't elaborate on the total paid out to him in royalties before his death.Was Kyle's statement about proceeds going to charity just a ruse to sell more books, just like the fight with Ventura was made up? Ventura has the right to clear his name and to do it in court. What is the alternative, a duel? Kyle's lies ruined Ventura's reputation and ability to generate income. If Ventura had dropped this case because of Kyle's death, it could be seen as an admission that the lies Kyle told about Ventura were true. Kyle made up the story, and he should be held accountable. The fact that he wore the uniform of our country does not give him a free pass to attack (falsely) the reputation of another man. Ventura is a man of integrity. In fact, for being honest, the media jumps at the chance to slander him. Ventura is a Patriot watchdog. Soldiers need to understand that without people like Jesse, American political corruption runs roughshod over our civil liberties.
Just days before Kyle was killed on February 2, 2013, he donated about $56,000 to the families of slain SEALs, Ryan Job and Marc Lee, as well as to a charity supporting veterans. At a memorial service for Kyle in Dallas, footage of which is shown at the end of "American Sniper," Lee's mother and president of the nonprofit America’s Mighty Warriors — whom Kyle describes in the book as “almost a surrogate mother to the other members of our platoon”— recalled the moment she learned of Kyle’s largesse. “I was speechless, overwhelmed and in tears,” Lee told the audience of 7,000 mourners. “Chris didn’t publish that book for an income or to be famous. He hated the spotlight. Chris did that for his teammates.”
Jesse Ventura won his lawsuit against the Kyle estate in July 2014 for $1.845 million after the former Minnesota governor successfully argued he was defamed by a passage in "American Sniper." Taya Kyle has said that she will struggle to pay the $1.345 million of that verdict for which Kyle's estate is responsible. Forged.com, a clothing company that sells officially licensed "American Sniper" merchandise, raised more than $1 million in donations in a week to cover part of what the Kyle estate owes Ventura. Forged.com is continuing to give a portion of sales on the site to the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation, which Taya oversees. She also has received other donations intended to help her pay the part of the Ventura judgment that HarperCollins’ insurance does not cover. Shortly after Kyle’s funeral in February 2013, hedge fund manager J. Kyle Bass, who helped Kyle co-found Craft International, visited Taya and promised to give her ownership of the home bought by Bass, through his company, that the family had been living in rent-free; and Chris' partners at Craft raised $300,000 for the Kyle family after his death. [Source]
In 2010, it was Bass, along with other investors, who provided Chris Kyle funds to live on, and Bass eventually raised a total of about $2.6 million to help Chris form what became Craft International. Shortly after Chris' death, Taya filed a lawsuit against Chris' co-founders at Craft, accusing them of mishandling company funds. In her legal filings, she detailed the promise Bass made of giving her the home and noted that he did not follow through. But other sources claim Bass conditioned his gift of the home on Taya giving proceeds from the book and movie to the families of two friends and fallen SEAL members, Job and Lee. The suit was settled out of court in late 2014, and Bass agreed to let her continue to live in the home until October 30, after which she can buy the house for $314,612 or pay rent to remain. [Source]
So whatever happened to the repeated claim that the proceeds from "American Sniper" would go/had gone to charity, benefiting the families of his fallen friends?
Consider what Kyle’s publisher wrote after his tragic passing: "He dedicated his life in recent years to supporting veterans and donated the proceeds of "American Sniper" to the families of his fallen friends."
An article in the Blaze definitively proclaimed: "A perfect reflection of his character, Kyle gave all proceeds from his best-selling book "American Sniper" to the families of soldiers killed in combat."
Or this line from a Human Events article: "For "American Sniper," Kyle donated the profits from that book to charity."
An article in D magazine quoted Kyle as saying he decided not to take a dime from "American Sniper": "As it became a best-seller, he gave two-thirds [of the proceeds] to the families of fallen teammates and the rest to a charity that helped wounded veterans. It was something he and Taya discussed a lot."
In The New Yorker, it was reported that "Kyle split the earnings with DeFelice and McEwen [his ghost writers] and donated his profits to the families of fallen soldiers."
Kyle perpetuated this idea, telling the same proceeds-went-to-charity tale to the Texas News Service and even adding that he regularly received tearful calls and letters of thanks.
And now for the kicker: It isn’t true. Out of the staggering $3 million that "American Sniper" collected in royalties for Kyle (as of June 30, 2013), only $52,000 actually went to the families of fallen servicemen. (Rather than 100 percent of the proceeds, as the public was led to believe, try 2 percent!) While Kyle’s widow claimed, in her testimony, that they never intended to profit from the book, and "wanted" to donate the money to other veterans, she said they were weren’t able to because of — get this! — "gift-tax laws that prevented them from donating more than $13,000 each to two families last year."
When Ventura’s attorney asked why they did not simply create a nonprofit (standard practice) to be able to give away the money without gift-tax concerns, Kyle said she had not had the time to set up such a nonprofit. Separately, she noted: "We are trying to find the right places and not just throw it away."
It’s true that giving money away effectively is more challenging than many people realize. But it’s hard to believe neither of the Kyles was able to sort this problem out: Surely it is quite easy to locate the struggling families of fallen servicemen. And the challenges of setting up a nonprofit don’t excuse the Kyles’ and the publisher’s strongly implying, and allowing others to claim unambiguously, that they were giving all the money away when this was clearly not true.
Why is there no concern for those families of other veterans — many of whom, unlike Kyle’s supposedly destitute widow, probably are struggling financially? Do those families, who were supposed to receive help, not matter? [Source]
Maybe minus the alcohol on the part of the younger Navy SEALs, this would have never happened (witnesses for Kyle testified that Ventura was not drinking on the night of the alleged incident, unlike Kyle and his friends).
The Powers That Be Want to Disgrace, Discredit and Silence Jesse Ventura
Jesse Ventura Talks 2016 Election, Howard Stern and Government Lies
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- Governor Jesse Ventura's Georgetown University Lecture, October 6, 2000
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- Jessie Ventura's Navy SEAL Brother Jan Janos, BUD/S Class #49 - Don Shipley Interview
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- The widow of ‘American Sniper’ Chris Kyle sues the company her slain husband started
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- AmericanSnipers.org awards multimillionaire Taya Kyle $62,000 from its successful rifle raffle
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- Kent Studebaker, Taya Kyle's Father, says Ventura “living a lie” by posing as a SEAL
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Chris Kyle Told His Business Partners That There was Discord in His Marriage and He Believed Divorce was a Very Real Possibility [Image Below is an Excerpt from the Answer to Kyle v. Craft, Filed on January 17, 2014]:
Jesse Ventura Explains the Offers Made by the Kyle Camp (Around the 17 Minute Mark)