Judge gets view from theater gunman's chair

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The first week of testimony in the landmark 'Stand Your Ground' case in Pasco County wrapped up Friday with the judge taking a trip to the scene of the 2014 movie theater shooting.

Judge Susan Barthle, dressed in regular attire and not wearing the black robe she'd wear in court, started the day at the Cobb movie theater in Wesley Chapel, where she sat in the same seat that Curtis Reeves was seated when he shot and killed Chad Oulson during an argument over Oulson using his cell phone.

"The Cobb Theater was to gracious as to allow me to bring the the actual previews that were playing that day and to allow the court to sit in there, so that the court could witness what happened in the form of previews, lighting, the noise level of the previews," said Richard Escobar, Reeves' attorney.

Reporters were allowed to sit in the upper, Cinebistro level of the theater while the judge and attorneys convened in the last row of the lower section; Reeves had been sitting in that row in seat nine.

Defense attorneys have said from the first day of testimony that it's important for the judge to experience as close to the exact conditions that Reeves experienced the day of the shooting.

"This case is about perception," defense attorney Dino Michaels said during his opening remarks Monday.

More specifically: how did Reeves percieve his surroundings and Chad Oulson, who several witnesses testified could be heard shouting obscenities as the previews were playing.

The same set of trailers that aired on Jan. 13, 2014 rolled as Judge Barthle sat in the theater on Friday and had also been played in court on Monday.

"There were people in the theater that will say that they heard Mr. Oulson's voice above the previews. The previews are loud and it's dark in there," Michaels said Monday.

Reeves has said Oulson was shouting at him, lunged at him, threw his cell phone and Reeves' own popcorn at him before Reeves opened fire, killing Oulson.

The second week of this case will include testimony from Curtis Reeves himself. Prosecutors will then begin calling their witnesses and expressed concern Friday that there will be enough time for them to make their complete case before the hearing's scheduled conclusion next Friday.


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