More than eight years after a trip to the movie theater led to the death of Chad Oulson, the man who shot and killed Oulson is finally going to see his day in court.
Jury selection has finally begun in the Curtis Reeves case.
What Led to the Trial?
On January 13, 2014, Chad Oulson and his wife, Nicole went to a movie at Grove 16 theater in Wesley Chapel, Florida. Behind them sat retired Tampa police captain, Curtis Reeves and his wife, Vivian.
During the previews, Chad Oulson used his phone to text his daughter’s daycare. This activity annoyed Curtis Reeves, who went to complain to theater staff. Upon his return to the theater, Reeves and Oulson exchanged words. Oulson threw popcorn on Reeves. Reeves pulled out a gun and fired a shot that wounded Nicole Oulson and killed Chad Oulson.
For eight years, Reeves has avoided going to trial for the shooting.
Reeves and his legal team tried to dismiss the case, arguing that it fell under Florida’s stand your ground law. The motion was denied, but it led to appeals, which pushed the case to the 2nd District Court of Appeal. Changing laws caused the case to be delayed further as legal teams waited for a Florida Supreme Court decision regarding rules on burden of proof in stand your ground cases.
All efforts to dismiss the case were denied, and the case is now ready to go to trial — but it took eight years which can lead to some challenges.
The Challenge with Jury Selection
In the eight years since Reeves shot and killed Oulson in a Florida movie theater, it’s been difficult to avoid the story in the news. The many appeals, controversial nature of the case, and long timeline have made it a top news story, even gaining national media attention.
The public exposure can make jury selection in the case difficult.
For the case, 250 East Pasco residents were summoned for jury duty. They will be broken into groups of 50 who will be seen over five days of jury selection.
The first day of jury selection, which took place on February 7, 2022, was an indicator that finding an impartial jury could be difficult. When asked if they knew about the case, most jurors raised their hand, according to reporting by the Tampa Bay Times.
During questioning of the first ten jurors, one said, ”I just feel like he shot a guy, and if you kill someone, that’s murder. He’s already guilty.” The juror was dismissed.
Eight of the next nine jurors gave answers that were similar. When jurors are familiar with a case before the trial begins, the judge must question them to determine if they are unbiased and able to serve on the jury.
From the 250 potential jurors, the case will need six jurors who the court believes can hear the case and make a fair judgment based on what they hear in court, not what they hear in the news.
What’s at Stake?
When the six jurors are selected, they will sit for a trial which is expected to take three weeks.
They will decide if Reeves is guilty of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and second-degree murder.
If found guilty, the 79-year-old Reeves faces life in prison.
Aggravated battery with a deadly weapon is a third-degree felony in Florida. It carries a potential penalty of up to five years in prison or five years probation and a $5,000 fine. When a firearm is discharged, as it was in this case, the penalties can increase to up to 20 years in prison.
Second-degree murder is a first-degree felony in Florida. It carries a potential penalty of life in prison, life on probation, and a $10,000 fine. Under Florida’s 10-20-Life law, a person may be sentenced to a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison if a firearm is used to commit second-degree murder.
Pushing for a Fair Trial and Justice
TJ Grimaldi is standing by the side of Chad Oulson’s wife, Nicole to see that the trial is fair and leads to the maximum punishment for Reeves.
While the state is prosecuting the criminal case, Grimaldi is representing Nicole Oulson to ensure that justice is found for her husband and the father of her daughter.
“Curtis Reeves should have de-escalated the situation. But instead, all he did was make things worse, and continue to make things worse, even after leaving the theater and coming back when it was basically done and decided to shoot someone over popcorn,” Grimaldi says.
Protect Yourself in a Public Case
Cases that take place in the courtroom and the court of public opinion come with unique challenges. If you are involved with a case that has drawn public interest, work with an attorney who has experience with high-profile cases and knows how to manage the media and legal process through your public case.
Talk to TJ Grimaldi to see how he can use his experience to protect you during a high-profile legal case. Request an appointment or call 813-226-1023 today.