DADE CITY (FOX 13) - The wife of the retired Tampa Police captain claiming "Stand Your Ground" in the deadly 2014 movie theater shooting in Wesley Chapel took the stand Wednesday during an emotional day of testimony.
Vivian Reeves was with her husband, Curtis Reeves, then 71 years old, when they went to the Cobb movie theater on Jan. 13, 2014 to see the movie Lone Survivor. Their son Matthew Reeves, a current Tampa Police officer, was planning to meet them there.
During her testimony, Vivian Reeves choked back tears several times as she discussed what happened.
"I've never been so scared in my life," she said in response to a question from defense attorney Dino Michaels.
She said she saw the glow of Chad Oulson's cell phone as soon the lights went down and the previews began. She couldn't hear exactly what her husband said as Curtis Reeves asked OUlson, 43, to put his phone away.
But Vivian Reeves said she could clearly hear the obscenities Oulson used as he snapped back at her husband.
"It scared me, it's horrifying that somebody would act like that, especially in a movie theater," she said.
Curtis Reeves got up to tell a manager and Vivian Reeves said, when he returned, the argument escalated quickly and she was so uncomfortable she turned away.
"It happened very quickly," she said. "[Oulson's] whole upper body just came forward and I thought that he was coming over."
That action, according to defense attorneys, was why Reeves started to fear for his safety. They said surveillance video shows Oulson throwing his phone at Reeves, then grabbing Reeves' popcorn and throwing it back in his face.
Vivian Reeves saw none of that, but heard what happened next.
"I hear a shot," she said, adding minutes later she said something to her husband. "I said, 'what happened? You can't shoot into a theater full of people.' Something like that. And he said, not now. And then I moved over."
She said she had no idea that, at that point, their son was there and trying to perform chest compressions on Oulson, who died in the theater.
"I saw Matt at the end of my row," she said. "He had blood on his hands and his clothes. And he came down and his dad told him to get me out of there."
During cross examination, prosecutors appeared to use Vivian Reeves' words to imply that Curtis Reeves was the aggressor after he instigated the argument and then overreacted to getting popcorn thrown on him.
This wrapped up an emotional day in court that included attorneys for both sides sparring over the relevancy of how the Pasco County Sheriff's Office handled the investigation.
"I know why [the State doesn't] want you to focus on the investigation because I intend by the end of this hearing to show this court that this investigation was nothing short of a disaster," defense attorney Richard Escobar told the judge.
Defense attorneys have repeatedly said deputies mishandled witnesses and evidence.
Prosecutors, however, said that should be irrelevant because it happened after the shooting.
"All you have to determine is whether he was reasonable in his actions," attorneys for the State responded.
The judge allowed the testimony, saying she can determine what is and is not relevant but would rather be safe than sorry.
The Pasco Sheriff's Office responded to Escobar with a statement:
"It's disappointing that the defense attorney is discrediting the professionalism of our outstanding members to deflect attention from the legal issue at hand."
Testimony will resume Thursday morning.