Judge rules on release of movie theater shooting video, bond ruling expected Friday

Footage handed over to defense

DADE CITY, Fla. - The man accused of opening fire inside a Wesley Chapel theater appeared in front of a judge on Wednesday for a bond hearing.

Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa was expected to rule whether to grant Curtis Reeves, 71, bond leading up to his murder trial.  But after hours of testimony, no decision was made. 

Court will pick up the issue 10 a.m. Friday.

Reeves, a retired Tampa Police Department captain, is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Chad Oulson. Investigators say he opened fire Jan. 13 after arguing with Oulson, who was text messaging prior to a movie.

Reeves pleaded not guilty and for most of the day appeared stoic behind the defense table. He walked into the Dade City courtroom neatly dressed in khaki pants, a tie, a red sweater vest and no restraints of any kind— which drew concern from the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.

"This is something we would normally do with any person normally charged with this level of crime. Therefore we object to him not being in handcuffs and shackles," said Capt. Mike Ferrantelli.

The judge overruled the request.

Legal expert Professor Jeffrey Schwartz watched Reeves' every move in court.  He said he's not surprised with the defense's early strategy.

"I think they are clearly trying to portray him as a typical 71-year-old retiree," said Schwartz.

One of the most pressing issues in court Wednesday was what to do with surveillance video that captured the deadly shooting.  Both the state and defense filed motions to suppress the video from going public.

Instead, Judge Siracusa ruled to allow the defense 30 days to review discovery material before it is released.  Siracusa said surveillance video that shows the shooting can be viewed in open court and recorded off the screen by the media.

"The legitimacy of our court system and the strength of our democracy is fostered when the public has broad access to court proceedings. Withholding this video from public view would only fuel speculation about what is on it," Judge Siracusa said.

The state called several witnesses to shooting who testified the argument between Reeves and Oulson escalated over texting before Reeves shot Oulson.

One witness, a U.S. Air Force veteran, Mark Turner, said he noticed Oulson standing up talking to Reeves, who was sitting behind Oulson. Turner said he heard Oulson ask, "Do you mind? I've got a voicemail from my daughter's babysitter. I'd like to check to see if my daughter's OK."

That's when Turner said Reeves responded. Oulson threw his popcorn at Reeves, who pulled a gun, he said, and fired a shot at Oulson. Reeves then sat back down. Turner testified that Reeves said, "Throw popcorn in my face," after firing the shot.

Derek Friedhoff, a nurse who was inside the theater at the time of the shooting and tried to save Oulson, also took the stand.

"I checked his pupils to see if they would react to light and they did not," Friedhoff recalled.

His testimony caused Nicole Oulson, Oulson's widow, to be overcome with emotion.

Friedhoff also described the heated exchange between the two men.

"I'll teach you or I'll show you.  Throw popcorn at me then followed by the gunshot," Friedhoff testified.

An off-duty Sumter County deputy also testified.  Corporal Allen Hamilton was inside the theater when the shooting happened.  He told the court he got to Reeve moments after the shot was fired.

"He again leans back and he says 'Holy f***, what have I done?' Hamilton recalled.

Hamilton also told the court he heard Reeves argue with his wife.

"And she postured and she said, 'That was no cause to shoot anyone,'" he said.

"He leaned back around and stuck his finger out as to scold her and said, 'You shut your f****** mouth and don't say another word!'" he said.

The defense called several witnesses to testify on Reeves' behalf, including a former Tampa Police veteran who worked with Reeves in creating the department's SWAT team, and Reeves' daughter, Jennifer Shaw.

Reeves became visibly upset, wiping tears, while hearing testimony from Shaw, who recalled family memories on the stand.

CLICK VIDEO TO WATCH REPLAY OF REEVES' DAUGHTER'S TESTIMONY IN ITS ENTIRETY

Shaw also said her brother, a Tampa police officer, had removed all the family's weapons from the home on the day of the shooting and locked them in a safe.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments