PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A trial date has been set for a man who shot and killed another man inside of a Pasco County movie theater six years ago.
In January 2014, Curtis Reeves and his wife sat down in a Wesley Chapel movie theater to see the movie “Lone Survivor”. Reeves is a retired veteran of the Tampa Police Department.
At some point, Reeves became aware of a man using his cell phone to text during the movie previews. Reeves went out to speak to an employee of the theater, but they didn’t immediately come to help.
Reeves went back into the theater and got involved in a verbal argument with Chad Oulson, 43 over his use of the cell phone.
Authorities said Oulson threw a bag at popcorn at Reeves who pulled out a handgun and shot him in the chest. Reeves fired his weapon and Oulson fell to the floor and would later die of his injuries.
Reeves never denied shooting and killing Oulson, but he maintained self-defense from the very start. Reeves was arrested and charged with murder.
His attorney’s argued the case under Florida’s “stand your ground” law, but the argument was rejected at a trial court hearing and eventually rejected by the Florida Supreme Court.
Reeves attorneys have filed numerous motions and arguments in the case and more than six years after the incident, the case has still not gone to trial.
On Wednesday Reeves, now 77-years-old appeared in court as his attorney told a judge he needs more time to prepare because there are 127 potential witnesses in the case and more than 7,000 pages of transcripts to review.
“So trying to get back up to speed with this case is going to, in my opinion, take some time,” said attorney Richard Escobar.
Attorney TJ Grimaldi represents Chad Oulson’s wife and says the case has been delayed long enough.
“I think it’s almost reprehensible that this thing is still going on six years later. I think it’s an absolute joke to say that they need more time to do things,” said Grimaldi.
Escobar says the wheels of justice move slowly,
“There is no need to rush to judgment. Let’s get this right. Let’s get this right so we don’t have to go through more appellate court decisions, more post-conviction decisions. Let’s get this right in October. Let’s let the jury decide.”
Grimaldi says the delay is “beyond making sure things are done right,” and Oulson’s wife wants the trial to start as soon as possible. This is a clear delay tactic. They know that if this man goes to jail, he dies in jail no matter how long the sentence is.”
That is one point Escobar and Grimaldi agree on. Both men say a prison sentence would be a death sentence for the former officer who has been on house arrest since his initial court appearance.
Curtis Reeves is slated to stand trial on Oct. 5, 2020, with the trial expected to take three weeks. A status check has been scheduled for March 11 at 3 p.m.