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Final day of controversial movie theater 'Stand Your Ground' hearing

Posted at 7:06 AM, Mar 03, 2017
and last updated 2019-03-25 18:15:38-04

Friday marked the final day in the highly-publicized stand your ground hearing involving former Tampa police captain Curtis Reeves and the man he shot and killed, Chad Oulson.

For two weeks we've heard testimony and witness accounts from the day of the shooting, January 13, 2014. Reeves and Oulson got into a fight over texting during movie previews. During the altercation, Reeves says he feared for his life and pulled out his .380 caliber pistol and fired a shot at Oulson. Oulson's wife Nicole had her hand on her husband's chest when the shot was fired. The bullet went through her hand and into her husband, killing him.

Reeves claims he shot Oulson in self-defense and is fighting to have the case dismissed under Florida's stand your ground law.

The state and defense each presented closing arguments when court resumed Friday morning at 9 a.m. Defense attorney Richard Escobar told the judge Thursday his closing arguments would last a couple of hours.

The 'Stand your Ground' hearing is in the hands of a judge now.

The judge says she will have a written order by next Friday before 3 PM.

"A 6'4'' individual standing, trying to come over that chair is terrifying," said Richard Escobar.

How popcorn and a cell phone escalated into a deadly movie theater shooting depends on who you ask?

"Curtis is dazed. Curtis is in fear. Curtis is terrified," said Escobar.

"Throw popcorn on me?! Bang!" said state prosecutor Glenn Martin.

"This behavior by Mr. Oulson is unexpected. It's uncontrolled. It's outrageous," said Escobar.

Was it self defense or something else?

"Retaliation. One word," said Martin.

Curtis Reeves' attorneys say even a simple battery on an elderly person in Florida is a felony, plenty to Stand his Ground.

The state says witnesses never even saw Oulson thrown his phone. They also argue Reeves aggravated a problem knowing he had a "great equalizer" in his pocket.

"There was no reason," said Martin for Reeves to have any more contact with Oulson.

Popcorn, a phone, a pistol---three reasons this hearing is so perplexing.

RELATED | Curtis Reeves takes the stand in 'stand your ground' hearing

WEEK 1 | Day-by-day breakdown from court

PHOTOS | "Stand your ground" hearing photo gallery

In court Thursday, the state played audio tapes from just after the shooting when Reeves was talking to detectives.

"As soon as I pulled the trigger I said, 'Oh shoot that was stupid. If I had to do it over again, it would have never happened'," said Reeves. "If I had to do it over again, it would never have happened. I wouldn't have moved. But you don't get do overs." 

"An arm came up and I saw a flash of red and at first, I didn't know what it was. I heard a noise and then I could smell something and I thought oh my God, he shot him," said witness Jane Roy.

A judge must now decide if Florida's controversial stand your ground law is applicable in this case. If it's deemed valid, all charged against Reeves will be dropped and the case will be closed. But if the judge does not reasonably believe Reeves was in fear of death or great bodily injury, then this case will proceed to trial.

"I was defending myself. It don't make it any easier to accept but that's what I was doing," said Reeves.

Reeves is charged with second-degree murder and aggravated battery.

The judge will rule on the case no later than March 10. 

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