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Pasco Tribune

Movie theater shooting suspect appeals denial of bail

Published:   |   Updated: April 25, 2014 at 01:57 PM

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WESLEY CHAPEL — Movie theater shooting suspect Curtis Reeves Jr. wants the 2nd District Court of Appeal to overturn a Pasco judge’s ruling denying him bail before his trial on a charge of second-degree murder.

The 71-year-old retired Tampa police captain is charged with shooting and killing fellow movie-goer Chad Oulson during an argument over texting at the Cobb Grove 16 Theatre on Jan. 13.

Oulson’s wife, Nicole, was also injured by the same bullet that pierced her husband’s chest.

Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa denied Reeves’ bond on Feb. 6 after a dramatic two-day hearing, during which attorneys for both sides showed surveillance video of the shooting.

Reeves’ attorney, Frances Martinez, filed a motion Tuesday asking the appeals court to release Reeves on his own recognizance or set reasonable bail prior to trial.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who represents the state, must file a response by May 13.

In the motion, Martinez argued that Siracusa erred in at least two ways in denying bail to Reeves, who waived his right to a speedy trial.

The Florida Constitution says the accused is entitled to pretrial release on reasonable conditions unless charged with a capital offense or an offense punishable by life in prison and that the “proof of guilt is evident or the presumption great,” Martinez wrote.

Siracusa ruled that the state had met the burden of proving that guilt was evident or its presumption great, though the judge said he “was hesitant to announce in open court a summary of the evidence the court found credible and the specific enumeration of reasons to deny bond.”

Martinez argued that the state had not met its burden and there was “significant confusion” among witnesses about what actually occurred in the theater.

Courts also can deny bail if the defendant is considered a danger to the community or a flight risk, but even Siracusa in his ruling said Reeves is not a flight risk and that he had “few concerns that (Reeves) will be a danger to community if released pre-trial,” Martinez wrote.

Martinez argued that it is “an abuse of discretion” for the trial court to deny bail when the defendant is not considered dangerous and is unlikely to flee.


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Twitter @LKinslerTBO


Reporter Ronnie Blair contributed to this article.

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