ST. PAUL, Minn. - The jury deciding the Ventura vs Kyle defamation case left the federal courthouse Friday without reaching a verdict.
Jurors will return Monday to pick up where they left off, trying to decide whether Jesse Ventura was really punched in 2006 by Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, and whether the tale of that confrontation defamed the former Minnesota governor.
When they broke for the weekend the jurors had logged 24 hours of deliberations across four days. The took up the case Tuesday afternoon after two weeks of testimony in federal court in St. Paul.
Ventura, as the plaintiff, had the burden of proving to jurors he never my disparaging remarks about Navy SEALs at a bar in Coronado, California and never was punched by Kyle.
That was one of the stories Kyle told in his 2012 autobiography American Sniper, a story Kyle stuck to in a video deposition taken before he was murdered in Texas last year.
Taya Kyle, his widow and the executor of the Kyle estate, had been a constant presence at the trial until Thursday afternoon. On Friday, the estate's attorney John Borger revealed Ms. Kyle had left the state.
"Taya Kyle is very much appreciative of the attention the jurors are giving the case. But she needs to spend time with her kids, and has left Minnesota to see them," Borger told reporters, while not divulging where Taya and her two children were.
U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle, no relation to the Kyles, instructed the jurors several times during the proceedings to avoid discussing the case with others, and to refrain from watching media reports while away from the courthouse. The judge urged them to base their decision on evidence presented at trial, rather than researching the case on their own.
Ventura's legal team left for the weekend without sharing any thoughts on what the long deliberations could mean. Ventura himself did not join them Friday in St. Paul.
If the jury rules in favor of Ventura on the defamation claim, they will be able to consider the other claims of invasion of privacy through appropriation, and unjust enrichment.