WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. — It has been nearly six years now since former Tampa Police Capt. Curtis Reeves opened fire inside a Pasco movie theater, killing Chad Oulson.
The two men argued over Oulson texting during movie previews that day.
Reeves claimed he was standing his ground, but a judge rejected that defense.
Then, two years ago, state legislators changed the Stand Your Ground law to shift the burden of proof to prosecutors. Reeves and other defendants argued they deserved a new stand your ground hearing based on that change.
Since then, the case had been in legal limbo.
But on Thursday, Florida’s Supreme Court issued a ruling that could finally send the case to trial.
His defense attorneys have said from the beginning all Reeves has ever wanted is his day in court. Now, he may finally get it.
“Agreed. Finally,” said TJ Grimaldi, who represents Nicole Oulson, Chad Oulson‘s widow.
Nicole Oulson was there the day her husband and Reeves argued.
Words flew, then popcorn. Then there was a fatal gunshot.
“And to know that we might actually have a trial date that’s going to stick in place is a tremendous feeling,” Grimaldi said.
Reeves unsuccessfully argued he was standing his ground during a two-week hearing.
But a few months later, when the legislature shifted the burden of proof in such hearings to prosecutors, his defense lawyer said he deserved a new hearing. Appropriate, they said, even if it meant delaying a trial indefinitely.
“What’s worse? A person in prison for 20 years and all of a sudden 20 years later we find out that he’s innocent?” Escobar asked at the time.
The Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that decisions reached in Stand Your Ground hearings before the law changed should remain intact.
So, with no new Stand Your Ground hearing for Reeves, “It is my understanding that the idea is to get us on some sort of a status conference in January. So that we can set the trial date,” Grimaldi said.
Reeves, now 76, has spent the majority of these six years under house arrest. If convicted of second-degree murder, it’s been suggested he might likely die in prison.
In recent months, the court had received unsolicited letters asking why the case was taking so long to go to trial. Waiting on the Florida Supreme Court decision was the answer.
Now, it appears that is no longer a legal hurdle.
“In my opinion, they have nothing left,” Grimaldi said. “Unless they’re going to attempt a plea deal or something else, they have no other avenues to go down or ways to delay this any further than they already have.”
We reached out to Reeves’ defense lawyers as well, but so far, have not commented.
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