Thursday, March 23

Opening statements begin in day 5 of Curtis Reeves trial

After eight years of delays, a trial is underway for movie theater shooter Curtis Reeves.

DADE CITY, Fla.— 12:30 p.m. update:

In the defense’s turn to present an opening statement, attorneys say Curtis Reeves was a 27-year veteran of the Tampa Police Department. During his time as an officer, he received countless accolades and is described as being a well-respected individual.

In disputing the prosecution’s statements, the defense says events at the movie theater unfolded differently. Lawyers describes Reeves as polite when asking Chad Oulson to put away his phone from him and throughout the entire event. The defense describes Oulson as “a loud guy who is cussing and ruining everyone’s experience.”

The defense adds Oulson came over his seat toward Reeves, which contradicts the state’s explanation that Oulson stood up and turned around to face Reeves.

Defense attorneys also cite the process of how evidence and witness statements were handled right after the shooting. Lawyers say witnesses wrote their statements together, giving Reeves an unfair chance at having events recounted accurately.

When it comes to the question of if Reeves was even allowed to have a firearm in the movie theater, the defense says yes. Attorneys cite the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act, which allows qualified police officers, retired included, to conceal carry a firearm in any jurisdiction regardless of state and local laws.

During opening statements, the prosecution went through the series of events that unfolded, leading up to the shooting and killing of Chad Oulson.

Prior to the shooting, there was a point where Curtis Reeves got up and left the theater to file a complaint with management about Oulson being on his phone. When Reeves returned to the theater, the state says Oulson had turned his phone off of him. Reeves continued to engage with Oulson.

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After the shooting, witnesses in the theater gave statements to police, including an account from Reeves. According to Reeves, Oulson had climbed over the seat separating the two and was practically on top of Reeves. The state adds that Reeves’ statement does not align with what witnesses saw.

The state also highlighted Reeves’ fitness. When Reeves left the theater, he did not use a cane, walker, or wheelchair. He also has 20/20 vision with his glasses on him. When the shooting happened, the state describes Reeves as moving very quickly, pulling his firearm out and lunging forward at Oulson.

Curtis Reeves is back in court for the second week as opening statements begin in his trial.

Last week, Judge Susan Barthle, along with the defense and prosecution, worked to select six jurors and four alternates from a pool of 115 potential jurors. The jury is made up of five men and five women. The jurors will not know who the alternates are until it is time for deliberation.

On Friday, Barthle spent the day hearing any last-minute motions from the defense and the state.

In 2014, Reeves shot and killed Chad Oulson in a Wesley Chapel movie theater after Oulson had been texting on his phone during movie previews. Nicole Oulson, Chad’s wife, was also at the theater and tried to shield her husband from her, causing her hand from her to be partially shot.

Nicole was in court Monday for the first time since the start of the trial.

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Reeves faces charges of second-degree murder and aggravated battery. If convicted, he faces a minimum of 25 years in prison for second-degree murder with a firearm.

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