Thursday, April 26, 2018
News Roundup

State to share tapes of theater shooting

DADE CITY — Prosecutors have security video from the Cobb Theatre in Wesley Chapel where a man was shot to death earlier this month. Attorneys for Curtis Reeves Jr., accused of second-degree murder, asked for the tapes in a court hearing Thursday.

"Our client is being held with no bond," Reeves' attorney Dino Michaels said. "We need to get those videotapes as soon as possible."

The state will release the video by Monday. It contains footage from inside and outside the theater, including in auditorium 10 where Reeves got into an argument with Chad Oulson during the previews of a Jan. 13 matinee of Lone Survivor. Pasco deputies say Reeves shot Oulson, 43, in the chest and injured his wife Nicole Oulson's finger as she tried to protect her husband.

Chad Oulson, authorities say, was texting with his daughter's babysitter before the movie began, angering Reeves. The retired Tampa police captain left to complain to management but returned alone and the two men argued again. Authorities say Chad Oulson threw popcorn at Reeves before he was shot.

Prosecutor Manny Garcia said the state had video not only from the day of the shooting, but also from Dec. 28, when Reeves is believed to have gotten into a similar confrontation over texting with another moviegoer. Garcia said the theater's cameras are motion-activated and record over themselves when they reach capacity. The video from Jan. 13 is complete, he said, but some of the footage from December may have been recorded over. In all, it covers "hours and hours," he said.

"It's a tremendous amount of information," Garcia said.

Reeves, 71, is being held without bail at the Pasco County jail on a charge of second-degree murder. He did not attend Thursday's hearing. A bail hearing is set for Wednesday.

His attorneys also asked that he be allowed to wear plain clothes — instead of a jail jumpsuit and shackles — for the bail hearing. Attorney Richard Escobar argued that the public has only seen Reeves in a green smock he wore during his first appearance from jail the day after the shooting. After he was arrested at the movie theater, he was wearing a hazmat suit because his clothing had been taken as evidence.

"There's no need to have him in (jail) clothing. He's going to be well-secured, and the public won't have a negative light on him," Escobar said. "I think that's very important to his defense."

Escobar added that a negative impression of Reeves in public could prejudice future jurors.

Pasco sheriff's officials, who handle courthouse security, objected by saying Reeves shouldn't be treated differently from other inmates.

Garcia said he's never seen the defense file a motion asking for a defendant to appear in plain clothes during a bail hearing in his 25 years as a lawyer.

Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa granted the clothing request, but acknowledged that it was unusual. He said Reeves would still have to be shackled.

Reeves' attorneys also asked that a doctor examine him at the jail and take photographs, which Siracusa allowed. They also asked that Chad Oulson's white iPhone be preserved so that no DNA evidence would be lost. Garcia said the phone was handled appropriately to preserve forensic evidence.

"We are very pleased that the judge made the right decisions on these motions," Escobar said to reporters on his way out of the courthouse.

Both prosecutors and defense attorneys plan to call multiple witnesses at the bail hearing.

Oulson's widow, Nicole, sat silently in court Thursday and is expected to speak at the hearing next week. After it was over, she stood with her lawyers, with a bandage on the fingers of her left hand.

"Her intention is to have this gentleman suffer the life sentence that she is now having to suffer, and her child is having to suffer," lawyer TJ Grimaldi said. "Not having a father. Not having a husband."

     
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