Florida Judge Denies “Stand Your Ground” Defense In Theater Shooting

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ST. PETERSBURG (CBSMiami/AP) — A 74-year-old man who shot, and killed, another man for texting in a Tampa area movie theater will not be allowed to use a “stand your ground” defense.

That’s the ruling of Judge Susan Barthle who said Curtis Reeves is not immune from prosecution in the death of 43-year-old Chad Oulson.

Reeves is charged with second-degree murder. The two men got into an argument because Oulson was texting his daughter’s daycare during the movie previews.

The two men and their wives were seated near each other during a showing of the movie “Lone Survivor” in January 2014.

Reeves is free on bond.

During a two-week hearing to determine whether Reeves would have to stand trial, Reeves testified he shot Oulson after he was either punched or hit in the face with a cellphone.

“I realized I was in a life-or-death struggle. He was no longer a loudmouth; he was a definite threat,” Reeves said in court. “He was reaching for me. He was getting ready to punch me. I perceived that. That’s when the pistol came out.”

The judge said a videotape of the events captured that afternoon by a movie theater surveillance camera didn’t support Reeves’ testimony that he felt physically threatened. The video did show Oulson throwing popcorn at Reeves. An instant later, Reeves pulled a gun from his pocket and fired. Oulson was shot in the chest.

“The physical evidence contradicts the defendant’s version of events,” the judge wrote in her ruling. She found that while Reeves testified he was hit on the outside corner of his left eye with a cell phone or a fist, that “common sense and the credible testimony of the medical examiner” casts doubt that he was hit in the eye beneath his glasses.

“The logical conclusion is that he was trying to justify his actions after the fact,” she said.

Reeves also is charged with aggravated battery because the shot hit Oulson’s wife in the finger.

The attorney for Nicole Oulson, T.J. Grimaldi, said that he and his client are “thrilled” with the judge’s ruling.

Grimaldi said they’re prepared for a long delay because the defense likely will appeal the “stand your ground” ruling and that a trial probably wouldn’t happen until next year.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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