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Curtis Reeves Trial Updates

Former Tampa Police Captain Curtis Reeves is accused of shooting and killing Chad Oulson in 2014 at a movie theater in Wesley Chapel.

Curtis Reeves Trial Updates

Curtis Reeves trial: Jury issues not guilty verdict for retired Tampa police captain

Jurors took about 3½ hours to acquit Reeves, apparently heeding defense arguments that he killed Chad Oulson in self-defense.

Eight years after he fired a pistol inside a Wesley Chapel movie theater, Curtis Reeves was found not guilty of murder in the death of Chad Oulson.

A panel of four men and two women took about 3½ hours Friday night to acquit the retired Tampa police captain, apparently heeding defense arguments that Reeves killed Oulson in self-defense.

The late-night verdict punctuated one of the Tampa Bay area’s longest-running and most closely-watched criminal cases — one that persisted through a 2017 stand your ground self-defense hearing, appeals, court delays and, finally, a three-week trial.

In the courtroom gallery, Oulson’s widow, Nicole, wept openly as the verdict was read out. She sat in her seat trembling, then immediately sped out of the courtroom with her mother and friends following behind.

As the jury entered the courtroom and handed the court clerk their verdicts, Vivian Reeves grabbed a small pouch from her purse and filled her hands with tissues, seemingly preparing for the worst.

Reeves, 79, simply smiled and embraced family members and his attorneys as the jury’s decision was announced. Minutes later, he spoke briefly with reporters on the front steps of Robert Sumner Judicial Center.

“This is great,” Reeves said, smiling. “It’s been a long eight years. I couldn’t wait for it to be over with.”

He thanked his defense team, led by Tampa attorney Richard Escobar — who fought for Reeves for nearly a decade. At the same time, Reeves expressed regret for the shooting that occurred so long ago.

“It was a sad day for everybody on both sides,” Reeves said. “It never should have happened. I never wanted it to happen.”

As he climbed into his car, a free man, Escobar clasped his shoulder. Reeves’ daughter is getting married on Saturday, and now he can walk her down the aisle.

The jury spent 10 days listening to witnesses pick apart the minuteslong interaction that ended the life of Oulson, a 43-year-old father who was on a date with his wife Nicole.

They watched the same few seconds of grainy surveillance camera footage more than two dozen times during this trial — sometimes in slow motion, sometimes enhanced or lightened and sharpened in an effort to make out any usable view of the altercation that’s partially seen in the far corner of the frame.


Trial set to start Monday morning

Reeves is suspected of shooting Oulson after Oulson threw popcorn in Reeves' face.

Since then, with defense motions, delays and the pandemic, the case has taken eight years for a trial to start.

Six jurors and four alternates were finally selected Thursday evening.

As the jury selection process dragged on, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Susan Barthle became visibly frustrated with the pace of proceedings.

“No, I'm not looking at tomorrow again," Barthle said Thursday about pushing back jury selection.

Today’s court session will be used for motions by lawyers.

Opening arguments are scheduled for Monday.

Reeves, who faces second-degree murder charges, could face up to life in prison.

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