Judge denies bond for Wesley Chapel theater shooter
5:36 AM, Feb 7, 2014
9:08 PM, Feb 8, 2014
DADE CITY, Fla. - Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa denied bond Friday for Curtis Reeves, a 71-year-old retired Tampa Police captain accused of shooting and killing a man last month in a Wesley Chapel theater.
>CLICK VIDEOS TO WATCH ABC NEWS COVERAGE OF THE HEARING AND SURVEILLANCE VIDEO FROM THE THEATER.
The decision came after two days of testimony, including recordings of investigators' interviews with Reeves and his wife.
A surveillance video of the what happened in the theater was shown in court.
Before ruling, Siracusa warned the courtroom at length about reacting to his decision, beginning his statement with one word: "Civility." He also told Reeves not to consider the decision a verdict or a statement on Reeves' self-defense position.
"I've been doing this long enough that no matter what I say in the next five minutes, there are going to be a lot of people who are going to be unhappy," Siracusa said. "One side or the other, both sides feel very passionate. And it's when you're initially unhappy (that) you're tempted to say or do something that you wouldn't normally do. There's probably not a better illustration of that than what brings us here today."
Reeves is accused of shooting Chad Oulson, 43, as movie trailers rolled Jan. 13 inside the Cobb Grove 16 Theaters in Wesley Chapel. Nicole Oulson, Oulson's widow, was shot in the hand.
According to law enforcement, Reeves opened fire during an argument over text messages Chad Oulson was sending.
Reeves has been in jail since the shooting. If convicted, he could face a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison.
Clearly restraining her emotions, Nicole Oulson's chest heaved as the judge read his ruling. She closed her eyes and smiled.
"I'm just very happy and relieved by the judge's ruling," she said outside the courtroom. "I have no doubt in my mind that it was the right decision."
Siracusa asked those in the courtroom to hold their reactions for outside court because, "you would not want to see others celebrate in your face or do anything to attempt to provoke you and vice versa. You would want to be treated with respect, and you would want to treat others with respect."
The judge's decision wasn't a surprise, said Donald Harrison, a criminal defense attorney told ABC Action News. It's possible Reeves' attorneys could appeal the ruling.
"I don't think it's going to be successful," Harrison said.
Had he not ordered Reeves be held, the judge said he would have given Reeves a $150,000 bond. He would have also ordered him held at home under monitoring except for visits to church and the grocery store. He also would have ordered Reeves firearms removed from his home and prohibited him from being in the presence of guns.
The ruling followed a second day of testimony that included recordings of Pasco County Sheriff's Office interviews with Reeves and his wife, Vivian Reeves.
Vivian Reeves begins the taped interview crying. "After the lights dimmed, my husband asked him to stop. He (Oulson) said something to him, but I couldn't hear him," she said. "He (Oulson) stood up and leaned over and said, 'Who the **** do you think you are.'"
She said she didn't hear any threats made between the two men and that although her husband told her he had been hit in the face with something right after shooting Oulson, she never saw. She did notice a phone and popcorn on the floor.
"Why do you think Curtis shot him?" the detective asked during the interview. "I don't know," she answered.
In his interview, Curtis Reeves said there's no justification for what occurred and, "If I had it to do over again, it would've never happened."
Reeves took detectives through what happened from his perspective. He said the lights had already gone down and he asked Oulson to put down his phone. Reeves said he went to a manager to report it and came back into the theater. "If I had it to do it all over again," he said, "we would have moved…but we can't do it over."
Instead, Reeves said Oulson became confrontational and started threatening him, even going so far as to start climbing over the chairs that separated them. "If I wasn't afraid of getting beat up, I would have never pulled a pistol," he said. "I was defending myself. It don't make it any easier…the guy was very aggressive."
A asked why Reeves shot. "He scared the hell out of me," Reeves answered.
During the interview, Reeves asked about Oulson's status. The response: "It's not looking good."
Here's the judge's statement prior to the ruling:
"I've been doing this long enough that no matter what I say in the next five minutes, there are going to be a lot of people who are going to be unhappy. One side or the other, both sides feel very passionate. And it's when you're initially unhappy you're tempted to say or do something that you wouldn't normally do. There's probably not a better illustration of that than what brings us here today. So to that end, think right now how you would feel if the decision went against you. And think right now how you would feel if the decision went for you. If the decision went for you, while you may be happy, you would know that if the decision went against the side that you want, or against that side, you would not want to see other celebrate in your face or do anything to attempt to provoke you and vice versa. You would want to be treated with respect, and you would want to treat others with respect.
So to that end, take a few moments before you react, and when you react, if you choose to, please react outside the courtroom. I've watched too many of these things escalate into a bad situation. We don't need that here. As I sit here and you wait for me to rule, I can tell you I've been in this situation before. I've felt this situation before. It feels like a verdict. But this is not a verdict. I am not finding anybody guilty or innocent of anything today and it's not to be interpreted as such. No matter what my ruling is on this motion Mr. Reeves nothing changes about the fact you are presumed innocent of this charge. Nothing changes. I'm not endorsing your self-defense position nor am I saying a self-defense position is wrong by my ruling in this matter. It is a pretrial ruling for the purposes of determining detention. It's not a finding of guilty or finding of innocence. This needs to be clearly understood in that way."