Year in review: Pasco courts host two high-profile trials in 2017


NEW PORT RICHEY — Two Pasco court cases this year captivated local readers and national audiences.

The spotlight shone on Curtis Reeves Jr. when he cited the "stand your ground" law as his reason for fatally shooting another man in 2014. Reeves defense ultimately failed.

Attention moved to Adam Matos later in 2017. Matos shocked many when he said his own paranoia drove him to kill four people, including the mother of his child.

Here’s a recap:

Theater shooting

Nearly four years after a confrontation over a cell phone ended in fatal gunfire at a Wesley Chapel movie theatre, retired Tampa police captain Curtis Reeves Jr. has yet to stand trial. Instead, Reeves spent 2017 in a high-profile "stand your ground" hearing, a claim for immunity that was rejected by Pasco Circuit Judge Susan Barthle.

Reeves was charged with second-degree murder in the death of Chad Oulson, 43, and aggravated battery of Oulson’s wife, Nicole. Pasco County sheriff’s investigators said Nicole Oulson was shot in the finger by the same bullet that killed her husband.

The two men were sitting with their wives before a showing of the movie "Lone Survivor" at the Cobb Grove 16 cinemas, when Reeves asked Chad Oulson to turn off his cell phone. Security videos from the theater, viewed in court during a bail hearing, showed Oulson then grab Reeves’ popcorn and throw it at him.

The video showed Reeves pull out a handgun and shoot Oulson.

Reeves cited Florida’s "stand your ground" law, arguing that he was defending himself in January 2014 when he shot Oulson.

Reeves was 71 at the time of the shooting. He is 75 now.

His next pretrial conference is scheduled for February 2018, court records say.

One spared life

Twelve men and women spared the life of Adam Matos, 32, in late November, when they wsentenced him instead to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the gruesome murders of his ex-girlfriend, her parents and her new boyfriend.

In August 2014, Matos shot and killed his ex-girlfriend and mother of his son, 27-year-old Megan Brown. He shot her father, Greg Brown, too.

He bludgeoned her new boyfriend, Nick Leonard, with a hammer. And later, in a fit of paranoia, Matos used the same hammer to smash the head of Megan’s mother, Margaret Brown.

Matos took the stand in November and recounted the four murders to the jury. His argument on the stand was simple: Yes, he killed them, but he was justified.

"They were trying to kill me," he said.

TyLisa C. Johnson, Times staff

RELATED:Judge rejects ‘stand your ground’ in Curtis Reeves case, pushing case toward trial

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