Trial begins 8 years after man killed in argument about texting in Florida movie theater

Retired Tampa Police Capt. Curtis Reeves, Jr., left, during his bond reduction hearing at the Sumner Judicial Center, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Dade City, Fla.. AP PHOTO/Brendan Fitterer

Opening statements are set to begin Monday in the case of a retired Tampa police captain who is accused of killing a man during an argument over cellphone use in 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 on Monday morning.

Curtis Reeves, now 79, is accused of fatally shooting 43-year-old Chad Oulson in a Wesley Chapel movie theater during a showing of the Mark Wahlberg film “Lone Survivor” on Jan. 13, 2014.

Prosecutors said Oulson and his wife were seated a row ahead of Reeves and his wife. Reeves got into an argument with Oulson, who was texting during the movie’s previews. The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said Oulson had been texting his young daughter’s babysitter, CBS affiliate WTSP reported.

Reeves left the theater to complain about the distraction, but the argument escalated when he returned.

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

Curtis Reeves appears via video conference before Circuit Judge Lynn Tepper in Wesley Chapel, Fla, Jan. 14, 2014.
Brendan Fitterer / AP

The case has been delayed for years as Reeves claimed he feared for his life and sought protection under the “stand your ground” law. 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 that the changes didn’t affect cases retroactively.

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

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

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