DADE CITY , Fla., Oct. 29 (UPI) -- Curtis Reeves, accused of killing a man in a Florida movie theater in 2014, will employ the "stand your ground" defense in his murder case, his lawyer said.
Reeves, 73, a retired Tampa police captain, is accused of second-degree murder in the death of Chad Oulson, 43, in January 2014. After arguing with Oulson about use of a cellphone to send a text message during film previews in a Wesley Chapel, Fla., theater, Reeves allegedly shot him to death.
A bullet grazed Oulson's wife, who was sitting beside him.
Richard Escobar, Reeves' attorney, has said video from inside the theater shows that Oulson threw his cellphone at Reeves, striking him in the face, before the gunfire. Reeves' wife and other witnesses said they did not see a cellphone thrown.
On Wednesday Escobar said the defense intends to use Florida's "stand your ground" law in Reeves' trial.
The law, passed in 2005, allows a person to use deadly force if he or she fears death or bodily harm. If a judge determines the incident meets the criteria in the law, the victim is "immune from criminal prosecution and civil action." The law requires the "reasonable belief," on the part of the victim, of a threat before using deadly force.
About half the states have passed similar laws, and nine others, through case law, have established a victim has no duty to retreat. The Florida law received national criticism in 2013 during the trial of George Zimmerman, who used the "stand your ground" defense to successfully defend himself in the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin.
Potential witnesses in the Reeves case include a retired FBI agent specializing in use-of-force cases, and a retired detective who wrote a book about the Zimmerman case. A five-day hearing has been schooled to begin Jan. 25.