TAMPA BAY, Fla — Late Friday night the jury returned from three hours of deliberation with a verdict.
Curtis Reeves was found not guilty of second-degree murder charges and not guilty of aggravated battery charges.
Watch the verdict below:
Curtis Reeves Verdict
The verdict was handed down after 10 days of testimony. And it came to the surprise of many.
“I think just about everybody in the courtroom was shocked. I think even the defendant was shocked,” said ABC Action News legal analyst Jeffrey Swartz.
He told ABC Action News that the short deliberation period made folks think that the verdict would have been different.
“The only case that they [the defense team] made to the jury and the only way they got this verdict was not on the facts of the case or even the law of the case. Mr. Escobar was capable after four hours of talking to the jury to convince them that his client should not go to jail because he’s just a fragile old man,” he said.
The defense is expected to release a statement on Monday, Feb 28. But they did hold a short, impromptu press conference with Curtis Reeves outside of the courthouse after the trial ended.
This is a day that’s long been coming. I will tell you that these moments are the greatest moments,” said defense attorney Richard Escobar.
Reeves also spoke to reporters.
“This is great, it’s been a long eight years. And I couldn’t wait for it to be over with. I’m very proud of my team of lawyers here. They did a fantastic job in bringing out the truth,” he said.
Reeves, 79, was tried for second-degree murder and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon in the 2014 shooting of Chad Oulson, 43, in a Wesley Chapel movie theater after an argument over the use of a cell phone.
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After eight years, the case was heard by a jury of six people with four alternates. The trial was delayed by legal motions, appeals, and even the pandemic.
Reeves claimed he shot Oulson in self-defense after Oulson threw a bag of popcorn and cell phone at him.
The Oulson family was very emotional after the proceedings ended and could be seen hugging and crying. When asked for a statement, they declined to comment.
Reeves told journalists that he feels for them.
“It was a sad day for everybody on both sides. It never should’ve happened. I never wanted it to happen. I never planned for it. I never in my wildest dreams ever thought anything like this would’ve ever happened. I feel as touching for them as I do for my own family,” he said.
Reeves says his first plan after the trial is to attend his daughter’s wedding.