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Trial Begins Over “American Sniper” Story

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Elizabeth Dinh
Elizabeth joined CBS 11 News from Seattle's KOMO-TV in December 2...
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - The widow of killed Navy SEAL Chris Kyle will take the witness stand on Tuesday to testify in her late husband’s defense. This is part of a lawsuit against the nation’s deadliest sniper over things that he said and wrote in his “American Sniper” book.

Former professional wrestler and Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura claimed that Kyle lied about a fight that never happened between the two men. Ventura called the federal court lawsuit an effort to protect his name.

Kyle wrote about knocking out a public figure who was making anti-war comments in a bar. While no names were given in the book, interviews with Kyle went on to identify Ventura as that same person. But, according to Ventura, none of that ever happened.

At least one legal expert said that this is a tricky case. Proving that a public figure was defamed is quite challenging in our legal system, and even more so since Kyle was killed at a Glen Rose gun range last year and is no longer around to defend himself in this case. “Given that the author is no longer living, it’s going to be almost impossible to prove that he operated with the reckless level of fault, that is the knowledge of falsity,” said Jane Kirtley, a professor at the University of Minnesota.

Since the author is deceased, his widow is now left as the defendant in this case. The trial could take up to two weeks.

It took only about two hours of questioning for a jury to be selected, consisting of four women and six men.

While much money is on the line — court documents show that the “American Sniper” book earned more than $3 million in royalties — Venutra said that this case is not about cash. He simply wants to clear his name and set the record straight. Ventura is also a retired Navy SEAL, and said that he stopped getting job offers after the book was published, as news about the alleged fight gave the book more publicity.

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