Pasco judge rules Curtis Reeves will stand trial for murder

A retired Florida police captain who is accused shooting and killing another man during an argument over texting in a movie theater will face a trial after a judge rejected his "stand your ground defense".

Judge Susan Barthle ordered that Curtis Reeves face prosecution in the case, which stems from the 2014 shooting at the Cobb Grove 16 Theater in the Tampa suburb of Wesley Chapel.

Reeves, 74, is facing second-degree murder charges in the January 13, 2014, death of Chad Oulson.

Before the movie began, a dispute between Reeves and Oulson broke out over Oulson's cellphone use. The judge said a videotape of the events that afternoon didn't support his testimony.

Reeves is free on bond. It ended when Oulson grabbed Reeves' popcorn bag and threw it at him, and Reeves pulled a pistol from his pocket and fired once, striking Oulson, 43, in the chest. Which begs the question, why did the defendant say he was hit in the left eye, to the point of being dazed, when the video images and basic physics indicate that he did not get hit in the left eye with anything?

The ex-cop and his wife Vivian had been sitting in the back row of the theater when he leaned forward to tell Oulson to put his phone away. His wife, Nichole Oulson, sustained a hand injury from the same shot after she placed her hand on her husband during the confrontation. Barthle's ruling was based on physical evidence that included surveillance video of the incident, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

"The logical conclusion is that he was trying to justify his actions after the fact", she said.

She found that while Reeves testified he was hit in the outside corner of his left eye with a cellphone or a fist, that "common sense and the credible testimony of the medical examiner" casts doubt that he was hit in the eye beneath his glasses.

Defense attorneys said they plan to appeal Barthle's ruling to the Second District Court of Appeals. "In my opinion, this was the defense's only shot. You cannot convince me that the legislature's intent was to pass a law that when someone throws popcorn on someone else, that person can shoot them". The men again started arguing when Reeves returned, unsuccessful in his search for a manager.

  • Archie Newman