Jesse Ventura said SEALs 'die all the time,' witness testifies
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The sister of a Navy SEAL testified she heard Jesse Ventura say at a Coronado, Calif., bar in 2006 that a fallen sailor "probably deserved it" and that members of the elite unit "die all the time."
And a SEAL who was there said he later saw the former Minnesota governor on the ground, laid out by a punch from Chris Kyle.
Kyle, a former Navy SEAL sniper-turned-author claimed in his 2012 bestseller "American Sniper" to have punched out a man later identified as Ventura for badmouthing slain SEALs during a wake at the bar.
Ventura said that never happened, sued Kyle for defamation and continued the lawsuit against Kyle's estate after the author was shot to death at a Texas gun range last year.
The matter is on trial in federal court in St. Paul.
Rosemary deShazo, the sister of a SEAL, was at McP's bar the night of the alleged punch for the wake of Michael Monsoor, who had served with her brother in Iraq.
Ventura, a former Navy Underwater Demolition Team member, was at the bar, too, with a group of older SEALs for a reunion. The Underwater Demolition Teams and SEALs have since been merged.
DeShazo, who is a doctor in Utah, posed for a photo with Ventura and her sister. She said she isn't sure when he made the remarks about SEALs — and couldn't be certain of his exact words — but said Tuesday she otherwise remembers what he said clearly.
On Monday, her sister Laura deShazo testified she saw Ventura get punched. Rosemary deShazo said she didn't see that.
John Kelly, a current active-duty SEAL, was also at McP's for the wake. Dressed in his blue Navy uniform, he testified Tuesday that he and other colleagues met Ventura there.
At first, it was exciting: Kelly was a fan of Ventura's action movies and discussed his favorite quotes with the former professional wrestler and actor.
"You're meeting one of your young idols," he said.
But when the topic turned to politics and Ventura began to speak ill of the war in Iraq and President George W. Bush, Kelly said he soured on the conversation and walked away.
Later, as Kelly was heading to another bar, he saw Kyle and Ventura together on the sidewalk, he testified. Just after that, he saw Ventura on the ground as if someone had hit him, with Kyle running from the scene.
Kelly said he didn't see a punch. At the next bar, Kyle told him the story. It was quickly passed around among other SEALs, who were drinking heavily.
They agreed Ventura got what was coming to him for disparaging fallen soldiers at a wake, Kelly said.
"You run your mouth, you get put on your ass," he said.
Kelly and Laura deShazo put the location of the punch in different places. DeShazo said she was sure it happened on the bar's patio. Kelly said it happened on the sidewalk, in the direction opposite to where deShazo said she was facing.
Earlier in the trial, Ventura's UDT-SEAL classmates said they saw no confrontation at the bar nor any sign of a punch over the reunion weekend that followed.