Curtis Reeves Jr., accused of fatally shooting a man inside a Wesley Chapel movie theater in January, was released from jail Friday after a judge gave him a $150,000 bail.
The 71-year-old retired Tampa police captain, who’d been in jail about six months, left the Pasco County Jail about 8 p.m.
Reeves, who was greeted by family, did not speak to reporters. Richard Escobar, his lawyer, said Reeves is looking forward to spending time with family.
"We are so happy that the system of justice has worked, and we expect that it's going to work in the future as well," Escobar said.
"At the end of a long journey, we're here. He is free,” Escobar continued. “He's where he should be. He is where he should have been from the very beginning."
Reeves is accused of shooting 43-year-old Chad Oulson during an argument over texting in January.
On Friday, Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa amended his order denying Reeves bail after an appeal ruling stated the circuit court "made an error of law and did not realize it had the discretionary power to grant release...In other words, it believed it must deny release if the State met its burden."
The appeals court authorized Siracusa to grant pretrial release and set bond or "to deny pretrial release in an order that provides a reasoned explanation for that discretionary decision."
As part of the terms of his release, Reeves must remain on house arrest under GPS monitoring and cannot possess firearms.
“He’s coming home in order to resume his life and assist us in preparing his defense,” Escobar said soon after the ruling.
In February Reeves, who was not considered a flight risk, was denied bond by Siracusa after a lengthy hearing that included testimony from friends and family.
The attorney for Oulson's widow, T.J. Grimaldi, said in a prepared statement, "We firmly believe the decision (to deny bond) was not made merely because the Court mistakenly believed it had to do so by law, but rather because it felt detaining Mr. Reeves was in the best interests of the citizens of Pasco County."
Grimaldi later discussed the ruling in front of cameras, saying Oulson’s wife, Nicole, was not in an emotional state to comment herself. That Reeves will be released after initially having bail denied made Friday’s ruling more difficult to bear, Grimaldi said.
“She told me the main thing that keeps going through her head is she wanted this guy to be behind bars for the rest of his life,” he said.
He called the ruling “unbelievably unfair” and said that Reeves “ripped a family apart.”
“I believe he’s an absolute danger to society,” Grimaldi said. “What if (a supporter of Oulson’s were to) heckle him, say something to him – they don’t even have to touch him, apparently – and it could happen again.”
Reeves is expected to stand trial in the second-degree murder case in early 2015.