DADE CITY, Fla. — Curtis Reeves and his attorney arrived at the courthouse Monday as opening statements were to begin in his second-degree murder trial of Chad Oulson.
Opening statements began just before 10 a.m. with the prosecution speaking first. The prosecution argued that the evidence will show that Reeves acted with ill will or spite at the time of the shooting, which must be proved for second-degree murder.
Prosecutors also argued that evidence would show the statement Reeves gave after the shooting was "not accurate."
In their opening statements, the defense argued they would show Reeves acted justifiably to protect himself and his wife. Attorneys for Reeves discussed his past with the Tampa Police Department, where he worked for 27 years, to show that he knew "about danger," and show that he "knows what a fist can do to somebody as a young person or an old person."
Attorneys went on to attest that jurors "must consider" Reeves' past training as a police officer and as the head of security at Busch Gardens, where he worked after he retired from TPD. The defense team said because of his past; Reeves learned how to assess a risk and spot danger.
The defense also told jurors they would hear from experts and other witnesses about Reeves' poor health and vulnerability.
The question isn’t whether Curtis Reeves shot and killed Chad Oulson at the theater on Jan. 13, 2014. It’s whether Reeves felt threatened enough by Oulson to justify shooting after the two argued over Oulson’s cellphone use in the theater.
Central to the case was the role of a tossed bag of movie popcorn. Defense attorneys said it wasn't the tossed popcorn, but that Reeves felt threatened enough by Oulson to fire his handgun in self-defense.
Around 3 p.m. Monday, Chad Oulson's wife Nicole Oulson was called to the stand by prosecutors.
She testified about the day of the shooting in 2014. She described Reeves sitting behind her and her husband and Reeves demanding that Chad put his phone away. She said her husband responded, "What's your problem? The movie hasn't even started yet."
She said at that point Reeves left to complain to management. She said that when Reeves returned the phone was away, and he said something to the effect of, "I see you put your phone away now that I told the manager."
Nicole said Chad again responded with "what's your problem?"
She described the scene to prosecutors and defense attorneys throughout the late afternoon before her testimony concluded around 5:45 p.m.
Testimony is expected to begin again Tuesday after 8:30 a.m.