Tuesday, February 20, 2018
News Roundup

Defense lawyers disagree on who benefits from theater video

The theater video depicting Curtis Reeves Jr. shooting a man inside a Cobb Theatre in Wesley Chapel was played in open court Friday, and local lawyers disagreed about who it would benefit.

Reeves faces second-degree murder charges for killing Chad Oulson during the matinee previews of the Lone Survivor on Jan. 13. With the lights dimmed, Reeves argued with Oulson over text­ing. Authorities said Oulson threw popcorn at Reeves, who responded by shooting Oulson in the chest.

"Wow," Tampa defense attorney John Fitzgibbons said after watching the video, adding that "some witnesses have indicated that they did not see Mr. Oulson throw anything, or make any contact with Mr. Reeves, and now it seems clear that those witnesses are wrong."

In the video, Reeves wears a light shirt and leans forward in his seat. Oulson's hand extends across the chair, just barely entering the clip, and dumps something in Reeves' lap. Without pause, Reeves throws his right hand forward and fires, the muzzle flash bursting outside the camera's frame.

"This occurred literally in a matter of seconds," said John Trevena, a defense attorney in Pinellas County. "It makes the defense's job much more difficult when there hasn't been an ongoing confrontation that escalates with violence."

The video seems to confirm that Oulson reacted to the argument first, and Fitzgibbons said that could bolster Reeves' self-defense claim.

But the video is also damning, Trevena said. It shows how quickly Reeves escalated the confrontation.

"Would a reasonable person feel the need to use deadly force based on what happened?" Trevena asked.

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