CASE 0:12-cv-00472-RHK-JJK Document 279 Filed 04/21/14 Page 1 of 5


Jesse Ventura, a/k/a James G. Janos, Plaintiff, v. Taya Kyle, Executrix of the Estate of Chris Kyle,

Civil No. 12-0472 (RHK/JJK)

Defendant. ________________________________________________________________________ PLAINTIFF JESSE VENTURA’S MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF MOTION IN LIMINE TO EXCLUDE EVIDENCE REGARDING THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF CHRIS KYLE’S DEATH ________________________________________________________________________ PRELIMINARY STATEMENT Plaintiff Jesse Ventura (“Ventura”) submits this memorandum in support of his motion in limine to preclude Defendant Taya Kyle, Executrix of the Estate of Chris Kyle (the “Estate”), from offering evidence regarding the circumstances of Chris Kyle’s death. Chris Kyle was murdered, and his funeral was held at the Dallas Cowboy’s football stadium. The fact of his death is, of course, relevant as to why the Estate, rather than Chris Kyle, is the defendant in this matter. But any testimony as to the details of his death, his relationship with his alleged killer, or his public funeral are in no way relevant; and even if it was, any relevance is substantially outweighed by unfair prejudice. For these, and all the reasons that follow, Ventura’s motion should be granted and the Court

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should prohibit the Estate from offering any evidence pertaining to facts and circumstances of Chris Kyle’s murder. STATEMENT OF THE FACTS Chris Kyle and his friend, Chad Littlefield, were murdered at a gun range near Stephenville, Texas in February 2013. Eddie Ray Routh, the man accused of fatally shooting them, is currently facing capital murder charges and the case against him is scheduled for trial in May 2014. Following Kyle’s death, Taya Kyle was appointed as executor of the Estate of Chris Kyle. On July 18, 2013, this Court granted Ventura’s motion to substitute Taya Kyle, Executor of the Estate of Chris Kyle, as the Defendant in this matter. 1 ARGUMENT AND AUTHORITY I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES REGARDING CHRIS KYLE’S DEATH ARE IRRELEVANT AND INADMISSIBLE. Relevant evidence is evidence that “has any tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence” and “the fact is of consequence in determining the action.” Fed. R. Evid. 401. “Irrelevant evidence is not admissible.” Fed. R. Evid. 402. Chris Kyle’s relationship with Eddie Ray Routh, the facts surrounding the day of the murder, how Eddie Ray Routh allegedly killed Chris Kyle, the public funeral at Cowboy Stadium and the pending murder trial will not tend to make any fact of consequence to the determination of this action more or less probable. In fact, absolutely

Dkt. No. 171.


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nothing in this case is dependent upon the particular circumstances of the murder or any facts related to it. This case is about the defamatory statements Chris Kyle published in American Sniper, and later repeated on the Opie & Anthony radio show and O’Reilly Factor on FOX TV. The circumstances of Chris Kyle’s death have no relevance either to Ventura’s claims for relief or the Estate’s defenses. Pursuant to Fed. R. Evid. 401 and 402, therefore, this Court should exclude any and all evidence offered by the Estate pertaining to the circumstances and aftermath of Chris Kyle’s death. II. EVEN IF THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF CHRIS KYLE’S DEATH WERE RELEVANT, ANY PROBATIVE VALUE IS SUBSTANTIALLY OUTWEIGHED BY THE DANGER OF UNFAIR PREJUDICE. Relevant evidence is admissible unless certain exceptions apply. Fed. R. Evid. 402. “The court may exclude relevant evidence if its probative value is substantially outweighed by a danger of one or more of the following: unfair prejudice, confusing the issues, misleading the jury, undue delay, wasting time, or needlessly presenting cumulative evidence .” Fed. R. Evid. 403. “[E]vidence is unfairly prejudicial when it would influence the jury to decide the case on an improper basis.” United States v. Wipf, 397 F.3d 632, 636 (8th Cir. 2005) (quoting Cummings v. Malone, 995 F.2d 817, 824 (8th Cir. 1993)). The Eighth Circuit has held that held that an “improper basis” is “commonly . . . an emotional one.” Block v. R.H. Macy & Co., Inc., 712 F.2d 1241, 1244 (8th Cir. 1983) (quoting Rule 403 Note of the Advisory Committee). The Estate will likely attempt to introduce evidence during trial pertaining to Kyle’s murder, and the fact that Kyle was trying to help his alleged murderer and fellow

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veteran, Eddie Ray Routh, cope with post-traumatic stress disorder. Although Taya Kyle is undoubtedly deserving of sympathy as she grieves the loss of her husband and the father of her children, however, any probative value evidence surrounding the murder may have is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice. See e.g., Tolliver v. Liberty Mutl. Ins. Co., 2010 WL 4053549, *2 (S.D. Ohio Oct. 14, 2010) (allowing evidence of the “fact” of individual’s death, but excluding “[m]entioning the circumstances of [her] death” as unfairly prejudicial an inadmissible under Fed. R. Civ. P. 403) (emphasis in original); Hammond v. Sys. Transp., Inc., 942 F. Supp. 2d 867, 876 (C.D. Ill. 2013) (nothing that “the Court may exclude evidence of the circumstances of the decedents' deaths that is more prejudicial than probative”); Green v. Ford Motor Co., 2001 WL 1530254, *8 (W.D. Va. Nov. 19, 2001) (precluding allegations that decedents died as a result of a fire, but allowing general references to the fact that decedent in fact died in an accident). Discussing the circumstances of Chris Kyle’s death is very likely to garner sympathy for Ms. Kyle. Emotion, sympathy, passion and prejudice, however, should have no place in the jury’s deliberation of this case because it has virtually no probative value on any issue in this litigation. Pursuant to Fed. R. Evid. 403, therefore, the court should not allow admission of any evidence related to the circumstances surrounding Chris Kyle’s death.


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CONCLUSION For all of the foregoing reasons, the Court should grant Ventura’s motion in limine to exclude Defendant Taya Kyle, Executrix of the Estate of Chris Kyle, from offering any testimony pertaining to the circumstances of Chris Kyle’s death.


Dated: April 21, 2014.

By s/ David Bradley Olsen David Bradley Olsen, 197944 Court J. Anderson, 331570 John N. Bisanz, Jr., 0389098 220 South Sixth Street, Suite 1800 Minneapolis, Minnesota 55402-4503 Telephone: 612-339-2500 Facsimile: 612-339-6364 e-Mail: Attorneys for Plaintiff Jesse Ventura, a/k/a James G. Janos



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