WESLEY CHAPEL — Attorney General Pam Bondi filed a motion Tuesday asking the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Lakeland to continue to deny bail to Curtis Reeves Jr., the defendant in the fatal shooting at a Pasco County movie theater.
An attorney for Reeves, 71, has asked the court to overturn a Feb. 6 ruling by Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa, who refused to release Reeves on bail after a two-day hearing in which attorneys for both sides showed surveillance video of the shooting. Frances Martinez, the attorney who filed the appeal April 22 on Reeves' behalf, asked that the 2nd DCA release Reeves on his own recognizance or set reasonable bail.
The attorney general's response, filed on behalf of the state, said that Reeves and his attorney must show that “pretrial release is appropriate, and that the trial court abused its discretion.”
Reeves “failed to meet this burden” in the appeal filing, the attorney general's response said.
Reeves, a retired Tampa police captain, is charged with shooting and killing fellow movie-goer Chad Oulson during an argument over texting at the Cobb Grove 16 Theatre on Jan. 13.
Oulson's wife, Nicole, was also injured by the same bullet that pierced her husband's chest.
Reeves, who is charged with second-degree murder, has been held in the Land O' Lakes Jail since his arrest the day of the shooting.
In denying bail in February, Siracusa said the state attorney's office had met its burden that “proof of guilt is evident or the presumption is great,” one of the reasons that a judge can deny bail under the Florida Constitution.
Such a ruling is a “matter of judicial discretion, which the court exercised here in denying bail for (Reeves),” the attorney general's response said.
One of the contentions during the February hearing was over a portion of a surveillance video that Reeves' attorneys said showed Oulson throwing his cell phone at Reeves. The defense attorneys had called an “expert” witness who had copied the video and isolated a segment that appeared to show a light coming at Reeves, hitting him and falling to the floor.
The defense attorneys maintained that light was the cell phone.
The attorney general's response noted that during the hearing the state attorney's office had objected to the “expert” video testimony because the witness was not disclosed to prosecutors “until the last minute, and the state had no opportunity to view and evaluate his altered video.”
That constituted a “discovery violation,” the attorney general wrote.
Also, the claim that Oulson threw the cell phone was “pure speculation” not supported by any eyewitness testimony and “there is a 13-second gap between the alleged cell phone throw and the gunshot being fired,” the attorney general's response said.