Oh no! I’m sure I’m going to hear it again, “What the hell is wrong with you people in Florida.” As always, I’m going to respond with, “It’s just another isolated incident.” Candidly, many are finding it difficult to buy my argument, especially with yet another bizarre violent crime committed here in the Sunshine State.
It all occurred during the 1:20 p.m. showing of “Lone Survivor.” The previews were being shown. A 43-year-old father was reaching out to his young daughter via text messages while in a Pasco County, Florida movie theater (near Tampa). Apparently, a 71-year-old retired police captain officer, Curtis Reeves was disturbed by the texting. Reeves asked texter Chad Oulson to put his phone away. When Oulson refused, some arguing ensued. Reeves then went to alert one of the movie theater employees. A short time later he returned alone and was extremely irritated. According to witnesses, more arguing took place, then popcorn was thrown. Then, the unimaginable. Reeves pulled out a pistol and shoots. Oulson was killed and his wife was also shot in one of her hands while attempting to shield her husband. The shooter then sat down and placed the weapon on his lap.
The movie theater’s website includes a list of those items prohibited in the theater. Interesting to note that the list includes: no cell phone use, including texting, and no weapons permitted.
Reese was charged with second degree murder and faces a life sentence for his actions. At the time of this post, he had yet to secure an attorney.
Regardless of who Reese retains as defense counsel, the defense he will use is extremely predictable. He won’t be able to successfully argue that he didn’t do it. Thirty witnesses in the theater will ensure he’ll have to go another route. He may consider temporary insanity, however, that rarely works. In this case, a competent attorney will advise him that his chances of persuading a jury to come back with a “not guilty” verdict based on insanity is so low, so remote, it approaches almost no real value. So what’s the obvious defense? The answer, “SYG.”
Having watched a great deal of the George Zimmerman (Trayvon Martin) manslaughter case, most have learned that “SYG” stands for “Stand Your Ground.” Easy now. I didn’t say it will work. Rather, I’m just saying that the only defense that he could argue and have any realistic chance of being acquitted or receiving an acceptable plea offer would be with that defense. Reeves will argue that immediately prior to shooting the victim, he reasonably feared that the victim was going to inflict upon him serious bodily injury and/or death. Based upon the eyewitness statements I’ve read, and the interviews I’ve seen, I think Reese’s chances of success are extremely low.
So, what does this say about Florida? Nothing. While I’ve said it before many times before (Thanks to Casey Anthony, George Zimmerman and others), I’ll say it again. This was just another isolated incident here in Florida. Generally, we are a peaceful, law abiding bunch of loving folks, who would never kill another over movie previews.