Saturday, January 20, 2018
News Roundup

Judge: No bail for Curtis Reeves, accused in movie theater shooting

DADE CITY — A judge ruled Friday that Curtis Reeves Jr., the retired Tampa police captain charged with shooting a man to death in a movie theater, will remain in jail until he goes to trial.

After two days of testimony, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa said prosecutors convinced him that Reeves should not be granted bail. Reeves' lawyers said they will appeal.

Reeves and his lawyers had hoped that Siracusa would be swayed by Reeves' statements to detectives after the shooting in which he said fellow movie-goer Chad Oulson "scared him s---less."

The incident, which has drawn national attention, erupted Jan. 13 in a Wesley Chapel movie theater after Reeves, 71, became agitated that Oulson, 43, was texting.

Oulson's widow, Nicole, 33, nodded slightly and closed her eyes when the judge read his ruling Friday afternoon. Outside the courtroom she said she was "happy and relieved."

Reeves was arrested after the two men got into an argument at a matinee showing of the Navy SEALs film Lone Survivor. During the previews, Reeves became angry when Oulson texted his young daughter's babysitter.

Reeves left briefly to complain to a manager but returned alone. The argument continued. When Oulson threw popcorn at Reeves, authorities said, the retired Tampa police captain pulled a .380 semiautomatic pistol from his pants pocket and fired, hitting Oulson in the chest and his wife in the left ring finger.

In the patrol car with his hands cuffed, Curtis Reeves told detectives he was scared for his life after Oulson came over the seat and punched him in the face.

"Suddenly he's virtually on top of me. I reach in my pocket. I'm stretched out trying to get away from him. I'm either saying 'no no no' or 'whoa whoa whoa.' Suddenly my head was to the right. He hit me with his fist or something. I assume it was his fist and something is wrong with my left eye. . . . I was kind of dazed — had to be from the strike. I felt like I had something in my eye. Still do."

In a surveillance video of the theater played in court Friday, a shiny object appears to hit Reeves and fall to the ground. Then a hand grabs Reeves' popcorn and flings it at him. Reeves then raises his right hand, fires and leans back in his seat.

Dust, dislodged from the camera's lens by the rattle of the gunfire, then flutters across the screen.

Assistant State Attorney Manny Garcia used Reeves' own words against him in arguing that he should be held without bail.

"Pointing the gun, firing the gun and his statements constitute second-degree murder," Garcia said. "From his own mouth, judge."

Garcia went through Reeves' statements made in a recorded interview in the hours after the shooting, including: "Good heavens, I didn't mean to do that."

Garcia also brought up how Reeves told detectives Oulson lunged at him and hit him.

"Where in that video do you see Mr. Reeves holding Chad Oulson back like he was describing?" Garcia said. "It's not in there, judge."

It was after the gunshot and before he knew there was video surveillance, Garcia said, that Reeves made up a story about self-defense.

"He knew that he shot that man in cold blood with no justification," Garcia said.

Prosecutors also played a recording of Nicole Oulson's statement to detectives. She said a gray-haired man sitting behind them "got rude" with her husband during previews.

"He was just nasty," she said.

The man left for a minute and came back. By then, she said, Chad Oulson's phone was off.

"We thought that was end of it," she said.

But the man taunted Oulson, she said.

"He said, 'Now you put it away, are you scared?' " she said. " 'Oh so now you put the phone away.' And my husband turned around and stood up and said, 'Dude, what is your problem?' "

At this point, Mrs. Oulson said she put her hand up to her husband's chest in an effort to say it wasn't worth a fight.

She said her husband never hit Reeves.

Reeves' wife, Vivian, also told detectives she didn't see Oulson hit Reeves.

In a recorded interview, she said Oulson "stood up and turned around and was just right there leaning over. It looked like his whole body came forward."

She said she didn't hear Oulson threaten her husband or see Reeves' gun. The whole thing "happened so fast" and she said she saw no sign of Reeves having been injured.

She said her husband, a law enforcement officer for more than 20 years, had never shot anyone.

"He's never threatened anybody with a gun or nothing," she said. "I just couldn't believe it."

In arguing against bail, prosecutors said they met the burden of showing the second-degree murder charge was appropriate.

Reeves' attorney, Richard Escobar, said the video, which he agreed to release immediately to the media, clearly shows self-defense.

"This is not a throwing popcorn case only," he said during his closing argument. "This is a throwing a deadly missile case."

Escobar said he was disappointed by the ruling but not surprised. Neither was Reeves.

"He prepared for this," he said. "This was a murder case."

Escobar said he is confident a jury will ultimately acquit Reeves, who will be in court again in March for a pretrial hearing.

Siracusa made it clear this week's proceedings were not a trial.

"No matter what my ruling is on this motion, Mr. Reeves," Siracusa said, "nothing changes about the fact that you are presumed innocent of this charge."

     
   
Comments
U.S. government shuts down; Democrats, GOP blame each other

U.S. government shuts down; Democrats, GOP blame each other

WASHINGTON — The federal government shut down at the stroke of midnight Friday, halting all but the most essential operations and marring the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration in a striking display of Washington dysfunctio...
Updated: 7 hours ago

High school scoreboard for Jan. 19

Friday’s scoreboardBoys soccerIndian Rocks Christian 2, Lakewood 1Lennard 3, Spoto 0Girls soccerPCAC Championship: Largo 3, Osceola 1Lennard 8, Spoto 0
Updated: 8 hours ago

Four people linked to Tampa carjacking captured hours later

TAMPA — It took officers just 27 minutes Friday night to capture four people who they said stole a car from its owner.The incident started outside the Ybor Coffee Shop at 5:45 a.m. A group approached the driver as he sat in his 2010 Toyota Corolla. T...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Inspector General launches investigation into Tampa Bay’s local career centers

Inspector General launches investigation into Tampa Bay’s local career centers

The state has opened an investigation into CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay, days after the Tampa Bay Times asked about whether the two regional job centers were inflating the number of people they had helped get hired. The agencies, ...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Florida National Guard soldier killed, five injured in Sebring crash

SEBRING — A soldier with the Florida National Guard was killed and five others were hospitalized after a multi-vehicle crash on Friday, officials said.The crash took place at about 1 p.m. at the intersection of U.S. 27 and Hammock Road.The soldiers ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Two New Port Richey men accused of stealing $11,000 in cellphone merchandise

Two New Port Richey men accused of stealing $11,000 in cellphone merchandise

NEW PORT RICHEY — Two New Port Richey men face charges after Pasco County deputies say they stole about $11,000 worth of cellphones and cellphone equipment at a Metro PCS store on State Road 54.Robert Jackson and Ronald Hartshorn were arrested Wednes...
Updated: 10 hours ago
U.S. Attorney: Tampa woman uses soul food restaurant as part of scheme to steals thousands

U.S. Attorney: Tampa woman uses soul food restaurant as part of scheme to steals thousands

TAMPA — The owner of a soul and seafood restaurant is facing more than 10 years in federal prison for filing dozens of false tax returns and stealing thousands of dollars, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.Natalie Rene Panko, 57, owner of Ladie...
Updated: 11 hours ago
That noise you hear from MacDill is low-flying A-10 Warthogs in training

That noise you hear from MacDill is low-flying A-10 Warthogs in training

TAMPA — If you hear loud noises coming from MacDill Air Force Base over the next few days, don’t be alarmed.It’s the sound of flying hogs.A squadron of A-10C Warthogs, beloved by troops in the field for their ability to swoop low and slow and tear ap...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Autopsy: drugs found in MLB star Roy Halladay’s system after plane crash

Autopsy: drugs found in MLB star Roy Halladay’s system after plane crash

When former Major League Baseball pitcher Roy Halladay died in a plane crash in November, he had amphetamines, morphine and the sleep aid zolpidem in his system, according to an autopsy report.Halladay, 40, died from blunt force trauma with drowning ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
USF leaders move to calm fears over consolidation plan

USF leaders move to calm fears over consolidation plan

ST. PETERSBURG — Holding a piece of computer paper and a microphone, the leader of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg began a Friday afternoon forum by repeating the USF administration’s new mantra.He reassured the crowd before him that t...
Updated: 11 hours ago