TAMPA, Fla. — On Monday, the high-profile murder trial of retired Tampa police captain, Curtis Reeves, who shot and killed a man in a Wesley Chapel movie theater in 2014 is set to begin opening statements.
After eight long years, this case will finally be heard by a jury of six, and four alternates, in a Pasco County courtroom.
The shooting happened back in January of 2014. Retired Tampa police captain Curtis Reeves is accused of second-degree murder after killing Chad Oulson in a Wesley Chapel movie theater after an argument over the use of a cell phone.
Reeves doesn’t deny he shot and killed Oulson but claims it was an act of self-defense after Oulson threw a bag of popcorn and cell phone at him.
"That’s one of the things the jury has to look at is whether deadly force was really necessary here," said Jeff Swartz, attorney and ABC Action News legal analyst.
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Swartz gave some insight on what he expects to hear in this case.
"I know Mr. Escobar (Reeve's attorney) is already teeing people up to the idea that his client is a feeble old man that was set upon by a strong strapping 35-year-old, and in fact, he was the victim of a felony committed by Oulson. He’s going to allege that this is a battery or assault of an elderly person, which is a felony in the state of Florida, that justified his use of deadly force," said Swartz.
For years, the trial has been delayed by legal motions, appeals, and even the pandemic.
Swartz said he’s eager to hear opening statements and has some concern with the time that’s gone by since the shooting occurred.
“I’m very concerned about how really dedicated to a conviction these prosecutors are. I think it was described to me by someone who works in the court that they just want to get this over with," he said. "I’m not sure that ... they’re really that dedicated to a conviction. I really am not. I’m going to wait to see their opening statements and just see how much passion they show for the case that they’re presenting.”
Reeves is now 79 and has spent much of the last eight years on house arrest.
Now a jury of six will decide his fate.
Opening statements for the Reeves trial are set to begin Monday morning. The trial is expected to last up to three weeks.