Trial date expected to be set in Wesley Chapel movie theater shooting

Published July 1, 2014

DADE CITY — The trial for a retired Tampa police captain accused of murder in the January movie theater shooting of a fellow patron could happen as early as this fall.

Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa issued an order late last week saying a court hearing set for July 9 should settle the question of a trial date in the coming months for Curtis Reeves Jr., who is charged with second-degree murder in the Jan. 13 shooting of 43-year-old Chad Oulson of Land O'Lakes.

Oulson was shot in the chest during an argument over Oulson's refusal to stop texting his 2-year-old daughter's babysitter during previews for Lone Survivor at the Grove Cobb 16 Theatres. Oulson's wife, Nicole, suffered an injured left ring finger, which was grazed by the bullet.

Authorities said Reeves got irritated and left briefly to complain to management. A few minutes later, he returned and a confrontation followed. It ended, authorities said, when Reeves pulled a .22-caliber semiautomatic pistol from his pocket and fired.

Reeves' attorneys say their client acted in self-defense. They point to an enhanced video that shows a lighted rectangular object being thrown at Reeves. They say that was Oulson's phone. They also say that Reeves, who was 71 and had health problems, felt threatened enough to use deadly force. Reeves told deputies during questioning that something hit him so hard it knocked his glasses off his face.

A recent forensic test on Oulson's phone turned up none of Reeves' DNA.

Reeves remains in the Pasco County jail after Siracusa denied his request for bail in February. His attorneys appealed that decision to the 2nd District Court of Appeal. A ruling has not been issued.

The judge wrote in his June 27 order that during the hearing he expects an account of all research and interviews still to be done by attorneys on both sides and a proposed timeline for completion, as well as an estimated time it will take to choose a jury and present the prosecution's case.

Reeves will appear at next week's pre-trial hearing. In a separate order, Siracusa said he will allow Reeves to change from jail scrubs to street clothes for the hearing, despite objections from prosecutors and the Sheriff's Office.