WESLEY CHAPEL — The effort to win pre-trial release for Curtis Reeves Jr. continues nearly five months after the retired Tampa police captain was arrested in connection with the fatal movie theater shooting of 43-year-old Chad Oulson.
In the latest give-and-take between attorneys, a lawyer representing Reeves filed a reply in the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Lakeland saying the state's arguments against bail rely too heavily on what witnesses did or did not see in the poor lighting of a noisy theater when Reeves and Oulson became embroiled in a dispute over Oulson texting on his cell phone.
“The State seems to erroneously conclude that the fact that a witness may not have observed Mr. Oulson strike Mr. Reeves means that it did not happen,” Tampa attorney Frances Martinez wrote in new arguments filed May 28. “However, this conclusion ignores the fact that these events occurred in a dark, loud movie theater while the movie previews were playing.
“This conclusion also ignores that each of these witnesses admitted that they had a very limited view of the incident.”
Reeves' attorneys previously have argued that Oulson threw his cell phone, hitting Reeves, and that led a fearful Reeves to pull a handgun and shoot Oulson in the chest.
Martinez's latest filing in the case comes in reply to a motion Attorney General Pam Bondi filed last month asking the appeal court to uphold a circuit judge's ruling denying bail in February.
During a two-day bond hearing when Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa denied bail, the burden should have been on the prosecution to prove Reeves did not act in self defense, but instead, Martinez wrote, “Mr. Reeves' claim of self-defense is totally unrefuted.”
Martinez further argues that an enhanced version of a surveillance video of the shooting was not altered, as the state Attorney General's Office argued in previous filings. Instead, a segment of the video was “captured” to zero in on the light of Oulson's cell phone hitting Reeves and falling to the floor, Martinez wrote.
The Attorney General's Office also had said it was just speculation that the light was the cell phone, but Martinez disagreed, writing that “the conclusion that what is shown flying through the air is Mr. Oulson's cell phone is not speculation.”
Martinez also attempted to discount the prosecution's claim that there was a 13-second delay between the time the cell phone was allegedly thrown and Reeves fired his gun. The video showed Reeves firing after Oulson snatched Reeves' popcorn and threw it at him.
“The State's reliance on the accuracy of the timestamp (on the video) is misplaced as both the State and the defense agreed that the events as depicted in the video are not in real time as the video only records when motion activated,” Martinez wrote.
Reeves, 71, who is charged with second-degree murder, has been held in the Land O' Lakes Jail since his arrest the day of the Jan. 13 shooting at the Cobb Grove 16 Theatre.
Oulson's wife, Nicole, was also injured in the hand by the same bullet that pierced her husband's chest.