Dade City, FL -- With so many legal issues still unresolved and depositions that still needed to be taken, no trial date was set in the case of Curtis Reeves. Instead, the court decided to meet again in two months -- on September 10 -- to set a trial date.
Reeves, 71, is accused of shooting Chad Oulson to death inside the Grove 16 movie theater in Pasco County earlier this year as the two argued over Oulson's text messaging.
Reeves has been held without bond since January 13 while the 2nd District Court of Appeals decides whether the judge's decision to keep Reeves behind bars until his trial is appropriate.
At Wednesday's hearing, Judge Pat Siracusa had planned to set a trial date for Reeves, but attorneys for both sides said the process was going slower than they had hoped. Progress was still being made; they said there was good cooperation, but there were so many people that still needed to be contacted and deposed, that setting a trial date today seemed impossible.
So far, the state had provided a list of all current witnesses for purposes of discovery. The list, however, may grow, depending upon the results of certain tests on physical evidence.
That evidence may include video taken inside the theater the day of the shooting.
Prosecutor Manny Garcia said their expert was still working on it to "Enhance it, analyze the video."
There was also a great deal discussion during the hearing about "gunshot residue testing," Prosecutors have often relied on it to show who fired a gun, and from what distance.
But prosecutors indicated the FBI and FDLE no longer consider the test to be overly reliable. The defense said it would have to wait for prosecutors to decide whether to submit a GSR report before deciding if they needed to depose any rebuttal witnesses.
Defense attorney Richard Escobar said, "We'd like that to be started as soon as possible, because we have our own experts" who they'd like to examine the evidence as well. "We believe it relevant to our theory of defense."
Judge Siracusa gave prosecutors 15 days to let the defense know whether they intended to go forward with a GSR report. He told defense attorneys if they had not heard from prosecutors by then, to assume they are not doing it.
The defense told the judge it had not yet deposed anyone in the case, because prosecutors had given them a potential witness list with more than 100 names, and the days of the week they were allowed to depose witnesses was limited to Mondays and Fridays only.
Escobar said it was not enough time to get all those people investigated and then deposed.
Judge Siracusa, who seemed frustrated by the delay, said, "You know, you all are fine to talk about these things when I'm not here."
Both sides assured the judge they have been communicating with a good relationship.
Judge Siracusa also asked both sides if they thought a plea deal might be in the offering.
"Our eyes are open" said prosecutors, but "no."
Reeves' defense lawyers also said there is no plea deal they would consider at this point, short of dropping the charges against their client, whom they say acted in self-defense.
Judge Siracusa also raised the question that may affect the trial date: his own future on the bench. He is likely to be reassigned in late August. Both sides indicated that even if the judge is sent to a different courthouse, they would prefer he remain on the case.
If there is a "stand-your-ground" defense in the offering, the judge also told Reeves' defense lawyers he would want at least four weeks before trial to rule on whether he would consider it an appropriate legal defense in the case.
After Wednesday's hearing, Reeves' defense lawyer said it was too early in the process to decide if they would need to use that tactic as a defense.
Judge Siracusa also set a second pretrial hearing for October 14. At that time, he said, he would like to talk about the status of depositions, discovery, and whether the attorneys would want a county-wide jury panel.
If both sides decided they would want the jury sequestered as a result of pretrial publicity, the judge also told them they would likely be working on Saturdays to move things along.
Prosecutors estimated their case would take about six days to present. The defense estimated it would take five days to present its side.
There was also discussion about how it would be handled if the lawyers decided that jurors needed to visit the actual scene of the crime, the movie theater itself. The judge asked both sides to have a plan in place for discussion at the October pretrial hearing.
Meanwhile the issues to be discussed at the September 10 pretrial hearing, said Judge Siracusa, will be limited to setting a trial date.
At this point, it would appear that the trial would most likely be sometime in early 2015, perhaps January or February.
Nicole Oulson's civil attorney said they were disappointed that no trial date was set today. They hoped that "the inevitable" would be resolved by the fall.
Oulson stopped to speak with 10 News exclusively after the hearing. She says the months leading up to trial have been difficult for her, and of course, for the couple's 2-year-old daughter Lexi.
"She's so young, you know?" said Nicole. "It's a blessing and it's a curse, you know... that she's young enough that it hasn't affected her too much, but it's a curse that she won't have those memories and she won't have that time with her father."
You can keep up to date on the latest court developments at CurtisReevesTrial.com.
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