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February 6, 2014

Friends testify at theater shooting hearing

NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. — Family and friends of a retired Tampa police captain accused of fatally shooting a man at a movie theater told a judge Wednesday that the former officer is an honorable, even-tempered man who should be released on bail.

Curtis Reeves, 71, is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of 43-year-old Chad Oulson. On Wednesday, he formally entered a plea of not guilty.

Police said Reeves became upset when Oulson was texting during the movie previews. The two men got into a verbal argument and witnesses told officers that Oulson threw popcorn at Reeves, authorities have said.

The eight-hour hearing was supposed to determine whether Judge Pat Siracusa would grant bail for Reeves, who has been in jail since the Jan. 13 shooting. But prosecutors and defense attorneys called so many witnesses — and asked so many questions of those people — that the hearing was continued until Friday.

Reeves’ attorney Richard Escobar said his client was defending himself, but prosecutors said Oulson didn’t hit or touch Reeves. If convicted, Reeves could face a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison.

Nicole Oulson sobbed as she listened to the testimony of a nurse who was in the theater that day and tried to safe Chad Oulson’s life.

Other witnesses for the prosecution included people in the theater that day.

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