Curtis Reeves trial begins eight years after deadly Pasco County theater shooting
WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. - A trial eight years in the making will finally begin. Back in 2014, during a matinée movie in Pasco County, a retired Tampa police captain shot and killed a man during an argument over a cell phone.
The years have been filled with numerous motions and pandemic-related delays that have really slowed this case down. But now, jury selection begins for Curtis Reeves' trial has begun.
Ultimately, the jurors selected for this case have to answer one big question: whether they believe Reeves acted in self-defense when he shot a man inside a Wesley Chapel movie theater on Jan. 13, 2014.
The jury selection process could be long a one. On Monday, a group of 80 potential jurors was summoned. Six will ultimately be selected as jurors and four as alternates.
But the headline of the day was seeing Curtis Reeves himself, for the first time in a long time.
Reeves came to the courthouse Monday morning and sat next to his defense team. He is now 79 years old.
Former Tampa Police Captain Curtis Reeves attends the first day of jury selection for his second-degree murder trial on Monday, Feb 7, 2022, at the Robert D. Sumner Judicial Center in Dade City. Reeves is accused of shooting and killing Chad Oulson a
The last time we saw Reeves was at a ‘stand your ground’ hearing in 2017. He told the judge that he was in fear for his life the day he shot and killed Chad Olson.
The incident began after then-71-year-old Reeves asked 43-year-old Chad Oulson to stop texting during a movie at the Cobb Theater in Wesley Chapel. In response, surveillance shows Oulson grabbing Reeves' popcorn and throwing it at him, leading Reeves to pull out his gun and shoot Oulson in the chest, killing him.
"He said, ‘Man, I can't believe I got shot," one witness said immediately afterward. "Blood started coming out of his mouth. I just held him."
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After the shooting, Reeves, who is a retired police captain, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.
Oulson's daughter was just 22 months old. She was at home with a babysitter when Oulson and his wife Nicole went to see a movie. Chad never returned home. Nicole’s daughter is now almost 10 years old as the murder trial gets underway.
Former Tampa Police Captain Curtis Reeves straightens his tie while attending the first day of jury selection for his second-degree murder trial on Monday, Feb 7, 2022, at the Robert D. Sumner Judicial Center in Dade City. Reeves is accused of shooti
Legal analyst Anthony Rickman, who is not associated with the case, says there are things Reeves could have done to de-escalate that situation. Considering that Reeves was a retired police captain, who was likely trained in those techniques, he believes this is something prosecutors will point to.
On the other hand, Rickman believes that Reeves defense will say that he was the victim in this situation with no duty to retreat. Reeves' attorneys will argue that once Oulson chucked the popcorn, there was no way a 71-year-old could have known what would be next.
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"(Jurors) are going to see what he is going to look like now," said legal analyst Anthony Rickman. "They are going to see an old man. The defense is going to paint that old man as a victim."
Rickman predicts the prosecution will show video of Reeves talking to theater managers about Oulson being on his phone before the movie, and that thrown popcorn doesn't suggest you should be so afraid as to need a gun.
"He could have distanced himself, he could have stayed in the lobby, waited for somebody to come in and assist him, tell Oulson to shut off his cell phone," said Rickman. "Instead, Reeves went back into the theater."
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There will likely be testimony from witnesses who were at the 1:20 p.m. showing of "Lone Survivor," potentially including Oulson's wife who was injured in the shooting, as she put her hand up to calm the argument.
"His wife is going to be sitting there throughout the entire trial," said Rickman. "The jury is going to have to look her in the face every day and see her reactions."
Reeves has been on house arrest since the deadly shooting.