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Legal expert discusses Curtis Reeves movie theater shooting case before jury selection begins

Curtis Reeves shot Chad Oulson in January 2014
Posted at 11:24 PM, Feb 06, 2022

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — Jury selection begins place on Monday, February 7, for a murder that took place eight years ago in a Wesley Chapel movie theater.

“If you look at all of this as being innocently done, then it was just a perfect storm,” said Jeffrey Swartz.

Swartz is an ABC Action News legal analyst. He said this case took so long to reach a trial because of state and defense motions and the pandemic.

In January 2014, retired Tampa Police Captain, Curtis Reeves, who is 79 years old, shot and killed Chad Oulson in the Grove Theater.

According to court testimony, Reeves and Oulson were arguing over the usage of a cell phone while the movie was playing. Reeves said he asked Olson to stop using his phone before a conflict arose between the two ending up in Oulson’s death. Now, one of the only pieces of credible evidence of the altercation is surveillance video without audio.

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“It’s going to come down to the timing of what occurred and who did what,” said Swartz.

Swartz believes prosecutors are going to argue two main points. First, Reeves had no business having a gun in a movie theater, where it was prohibited; and second, he had no reason to feel that his life was at stake.

IN DEPTH: What lawyers on both sides of the Curtis Reeves movie theater shooting trial are saying

On the defense’s side, Swartz believes they are going to argue that Reeves was an old man, afraid for his life in a conflict involving a younger, bigger person.

Now, the search will begin for a jury that can be impartial in this murder case.

“Generally speaking, people would say it’s going to take a long time to get a jury. It could, but it could also be a very quickly picked jury. It could take two days,” said Swartz.

Though this case took years to reach a trial, Swartz believes a decision could be made within a few weeks.

“The judge says it’ll last two weeks. Well, if the judge is going to work 10/12 hours a day, then maybe work on Saturdays, possibly she might get it done. I think it’s more likely than not that this is going to take three weeks,” said Swartz.