Trial begins 8 years after man died in argument over texting at Florida movie theater

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WESLEY CHAPEL (CBS)

Opening statements are set to begin Monday in the case of a retired Tampa police captain accused of killing a man during an argument over cellphone use at a movie theater in 2014.

Six jurors and four alternates were chosen during the four-day jury selection process. Pasco County Judge Susan Barthle was scheduled to hear final motions from attorneys on Friday before the second-degree murder trial begins Monday morning.

Curtis Reeves, now 79, is accused of shooting dead Chad Oulson, 43, in a Wesley Chapel movie theater during a January 13, 2014 screening of Mark Wahlberg’s film “Lone Survivor.”

Prosecutors said Oulson and his wife sat a row ahead of Reeves and his wife. Reeves argued with Oulson, who was texting during previews of the film. The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said Oulson texted his young daughter’s babysitter, CBS affiliate WTSP reported.

Reeves left the theater to complain about the distraction, but the argument escalated upon his return.

Investigators said Oulson threw popcorn at the older man, who then pulled out a .380 caliber handgun and shot him. The bullet also hit Oulson’s wife, Nicole, in the hand.

Curtis Reeves appears via videoconference before Circuit Judge Lynn Tepper in Wesley Chapel, Florida on January 14, 2014.
Brendan Fitterer/AP

The case was delayed for years as Reeves claimed he feared for his life and sought protection under the ‘Hold On’ Act. A circuit judge ruled against him, but Reeves appealed. Lawmakers changed the law to shift the burden of proof to prosecutors, but the Florida Supreme Court ruled the changes did not affect cases retroactively.

Reeves has been living at home under house arrest with a GPS monitor since his release from prison on bail in July 2014, WTSP reported.

The jury is made up of five women and five men. They will hear all the evidence and will not know who the alternates are until the deliberations begin.

Copyright 2022 Fort Myers Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without prior written permission.

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