Evidence to Be Released in Florida Theater Shooting Case

Retired Tampa police captain is accused of shooting a fellow movie-goer over text messages.

By Tamara Lush
|  Wednesday, Mar 12, 2014  |  Updated 3:54 PM EDT
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Evidence to Be Released in Tampa Theater Shooting Case

Curtis Reeves Jr., 71, makes his first court appearance via a video link from jail on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014.

 All evidence can be made public in the case of a retired Tampa police captain who fatally shot a man in a movie theater after a dispute over texting, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Judge Pat Siracusa ruled during a hearing in Pasco County Court after the defense and prosecution said they had no objections. The next court hearing was set for July 9, and the trial isn't expected to begin for several months.

Curtis Reeves, 71, is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Chad Oulson, who died in a Wesley Chapel movie theater on Jan. 13.

Reeves is being held without bail in the Pasco County Jail. His attorneys say that Reeves was acting in self-defense. Reeves told police that the 43-year-old Oulson hit him in the face, possibly with a cellphone. But other witnesses, including Reeves' wife, said they never saw Oulson strike Reeves.

His attorney, Dino Michaels, said Wednesday that the defense team is doing its own investigation.

"This man's life is on the line," Michaels said, referring to Reeves' age. "Any kind of sentence he receives is a death sentence."

If convicted, Reeves could face a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison.

Michaels said the defense did not object to releasing the evidence.

"I think the more that comes out, the better it is for Mr. Reeves," he said.

In early February, the evidence was sealed from the public for 30 days so Reeves' attorneys could review it and perhaps challenge all or parts of its release to the public. They had no challenges, largely because much of the information was released during a two-day bond hearing.

Oulson's widow, Nicole Oulson, attended the court hearing, flanked by her attorneys. She was struck in the finger by the bullet that killed her husband.

Oulson didn't speak to reporters as she left the courthouse, but her attorney said he wasn't surprised by the lengthy time frame for the trial.

"This is a pretty convoluted case with a lot of witnesses," said attorney T.J. Grimaldi.

He added that Oulson is grateful for the support she's received especially recent efforts to raise money for a college fund for her and Chad's toddler daughter.

"The outpouring of love and appreciation and care from the community has been incredible," he said.

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