DADE CITY, Fla. (AP) — Attorneys for a retired Tampa police captain accused of killing a man in a movie theater said Wednesday that Florida’s “stand your ground” defense might be used at trial next year.
Attorney Richard Escobar said Wednesday the defense team for Curtis Reeves Jr. is weighing its moves ahead of their client’s trial on second-degree murder charges in the death of Chad Oulson, 43, of Land O’Lakes. Reeves, 71, is accused of shooting Oulson in the chest at the theater after the two argued over Oulson’s apparent refusal to stop texting while movie previews were being shown. The bullet also hit Oulson’s wife, Nicole, in the hand.
Reeves’ attorneys say their client shot in self-defense and, at a pre-trial hearing Wednesday, said they hadn’t ruled out using Florida’s “stand yourground” law to defend him.
The law says people who are not involved in illegal activity have the right to use force — even deadly force — if they reasonably believe it’s necessary to avoid death or great bodily harm. The court must be informed four weeks before the start of the trial if that defense is used.
A trial date was expected to be set during the hearing, but defense attorneys said they were still in the midst of investigating the state’s evidence, including 100 witnesses. Attorneys will meet Sept. 10 to determine a trial date.
Both sides have said they are not interested in a plea deal.
“This is going to trial,” Escobar said. “We’re going to let the justice system decide this case.”
Reeves faces a minimum sentence of 25 years if convicted.
Attorneys will discuss jury instructions, possible sequestration and media availability during an Oct. 14 pretrial hearing.
Reeves remains in the Pasco County jail after a judge denied his request for bail in February. Defense attorneys expect a decision on their appeal to come in the next two weeks.
Nicole Oulsen says she has little movement in her hand and showed the scar from a gunshot blast on her left wrist after the hearing.
“We are definitely disappointed that this will take an extended period,” said her attorney, T.J. Grimaldi. “It happened and it happened for no reason… He was totally the aggressor and there’s no way around it.”
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