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U.S. judge tells jury to take one more shot at Ventura verdict

By Todd Melby and Art Hughes

ST. PAUL Minn. (Reuters) - A federal judge asked a jury on Monday to try one more time in a defamation case brought by former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura after the panel said it could not reach a verdict following about five days of deliberations.

Ventura is suing the estate of former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle for an undisclosed amount of money, saying the reputation of the pro wrestler-turned-politician was left in shambles by a passage in a book by Kyle about a bar fight between the two.

"We the jury have not reached a decision," the 10-member panel said in a note to Senior U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle. After asking the jury to continue deliberations, the judge informed lawyers a "mistrial is a possibility."

The jury did not reach a verdict after being sent back and will reconvene on Tuesday.

Lawyers for Chris Kyle's estate contend Ventura's defamation case is aimed at keeping his name in the headlines at the expense of an ex-SEAL who served his country with honor.

Kyle, who was killed in 2013 at a Texas shooting range by a troubled Iraq war veteran, wrote in his bestselling book "American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History" that he got into a fight with a man who made disparaging remarks about the Navy SEALS.

Ventura was not named in the book, but Kyle later named Ventura as the person in the fight.

The jury is being asked to determine whether Ventura was defamed, whether the statements the book made about him were false, and because Ventura is a public figure, if Kyle made them with actual malice, a higher standard than for ordinary citizens.

(Reporting by Todd Melby and Art Hughes; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Jim Loney)