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Several witnesses take stand in Day 2 of Curtis Reeves trial

Posted at 5:54 PM, Feb 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-15 23:13:52-05
ICYMI: Several witnesses take stand in Day 2 of Curtis Reeves trial

Testimony in the Curtis Reeves trial began just before 9 a.m. on Tuesday, with the first witness for the prosecution being a witness who was in the theater at the time.

The witness, Charles Cummings Jr., recalled the day the shooting took place. He described seeing popcorn flying through the air and seeing the theater light up when the gun went off. He said after Chad Oulson was shot, he stumbled and fell at his feet. He said he attempted to resuscitate Oulson "the best I could" and recalled feeling blood on his hands.

Cummings, who was at the movie with his son who is disabled, said they sat in the end seats in the same row as Oulson and his wife. He described the theater as being "mid-light" at the time of the shooting, saying it wasn't dark or light.

Cummings described seeing the light from Oulson's cellphone and hearing the exchange between Reeves and Oulson about the phone as they watched the previews. He said there was some type of "interchange" between the two before Reeves stood up and left the theater. Cummings described Reeves as "shuffling his feet very quickly" and "mumbling to himself" as he left the theater.

During cross-examination, the defense asked Cummings about his statement to police at the time of the shooting and about the volume of the previews. The defense team went on to ask Cummings how much he was able to hear of the exchange between Oulson and Reeves. Cummings recalled hearing Oulson say something about texting his daughter or babysitter. Cummings, when asked by the defense if Oulson's voice was "loud" or "authoritative," said Oulson's tone was frustrated.

The defense mentioned previous testimony where Cummings described Oulson's tone as "authoritative." Cummings went on to describe Oulson as speaking louder than the previews.

After a few brief sidebars, the defense continued to ask Cummings about the statement he gave detectives following the shooting. The defense team questioned Cummings about mentioning that Reeves hit the back of his seat as he left the theater to complain and about who threw the bag of popcorn.

According to the defense, in his statement to detectives following the shooting, Cummings said he "didn't think that Mr. Oulson threw it (the popcorn) directly at Mr. Reeves." Cummings said he didn't recall saying that and said, "I just saw popcorn in the air."

Charles Cummings Jr. takes stand to testify in Curtis Reeves trial

Shortly after 10 a.m., prosecutors called Jane Roy as the second witness of the day. She was in the theater at the time with her husband and was sitting in the same row as Reeves and his wife.

Roy described seeing Reeves lean over and ask Oulson to put his phone away "almost immediately" after the preview that asks moviegoers to put their phones away. She said after that, Reeves walked quickly by her as he left the theater to complain. She said he was mumbling and seemed "upset or irate about something" as he left the row.

Prosecutors asked Roy if she saw any type of threatening behavior by anyone before Reeves left the theater. She said no.

During cross-examination, the defense questioned Roy about a disability that affects the left side of her face including her sight and hearing. The defense also questioned Roy about the previous testimony she gave in March 2015. Roy repeatedly said she didn't remember that testimony. The defense questioned how Roy described the theater as "pretty dark" at the time. On Tuesday, she testified that she remembered the lighting as being "muted," and said, "you could see the seats, you could see people were seated there."

Roy testified that the previews were playing loudly, but not as loud as a movie would be, and said it was light enough to see things going on, "so it was not completely dark." Roy said she was looking around the theater at the time, not watching the previews.

Jane Roy takes stand to testify in Curtis Reeves trial

After returning from lunch, the state called Alan Hamilton to the stand when the trial resumed. Hamilton, a retired Sumter County deputy, was at the movie with his wife. He was off duty at the time. His wife Angela testified before the trial took a lunch break.

Hamilton said he was drawn to the altercation between Oulson and Reeves during the previews by his wife, who told him "you probably need to pay attention to this." He said he sat up straight, scooted forward and turned his whole body in the direction of Oulson and Reeves, which was to his right. He said he didn't take his eyes off that area.

Hamilton in his initial statement said Oulson was leaning over his seat, but now says he was just propping himself up, not leaning.

That change in his statement led to a heated cross-examination by Defense attorney, Richard Escobar.

"Is that what you call propped up? Or was he leaning, as your statement, leaning over the back of his seat?" said Escobar.

"He was not leaning over the back of his seat," said Hamilton.

"Not leaning even though that's what you put in your statement?" said Escobar.

"Yes sir," said Hamilton.

"You must have been lying then--" said Escobar.

"I object to that characterization," said a member of the prosecution.

ABC Action News legal analyst Jeffrey Swartz said it's a move that likely backfired with the jury.

"There's nothing wrong with showing a little confrontation when you are cross-examining someone, but not on every point that you're questioning them about. What happens is the jury starts to feel for the witness," he said.

Alan Hamilton takes stand to testify in Curtis Reeves trial

Others called on by the prosecution included Eric Jones from the Pasco County Sheriff's Office and Amy Parish, a forensic investigator.

Jones talked about his response to the shooting and said Reeves was being detained when he arrived. Parish explained how she responded to the scene the day of the incident.

Amy Kubin, a former forensic investigator for Pasco County Sheriff's Office, and Deputy Steven Bunner with Patrol Operations were the last individuals to take the stand.

Swartz told ABC Action News that overall, the defense team's tactic to try and poke holes in witness testimony by using the age of the case or the darkness of the theater may not have been very impactful.

"How many shootings have you been at that you would forget what you saw when someone died? That's really what it comes down to," he said.

Testimony is expected to begin again Wednesday after 8:30 a.m.