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Florida Matters

As the Curtis Reeves trial nears, Florida Matters explores Florida's Stand Your Ground law

Curtis Reeves (center), sits beside his defense attorneys Dino Michaels (left) and Richard Escobar
Brendan Fitterer/AP photo pool
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Tampa Bay Times
Former Tampa Police captain Curtis Reeves, Jr., (center), sits beside his defense attorneys Dino Michaels (left) and Richard Escobar as they listen to his taped interview by detectives during his bond reduction hearing in Dade City in 2014.

The former Tampa police officer shot and killed Chad Oulson in a Pasco County movie theater eight years ago. He attempted to use the controversial law as a defense but a judge ruled against it.

This week, we get an update on Florida's Stand Your Ground law as the trial of Curtis Reeves starts Feb. 7.

Prosecutors charged the former Tampa police officer with second-degree murder after he shot and killed Chad Oulson in a Pasco County movie theater eight years ago. Reeves invoked the Stand Your Ground law as a defense, but a judge ruled against his request for immunity.

Now after a lengthy pre-trial period and a few delays — including two due to the coronavirus pandemic — the case is finally going to a jury trial.

To break down why the high-profile case took eight years to prepare, host Steve Newborn talks with Kathryn Varn, a Tampa Bay Times reporter who has covered the Reeves case extensively.

She’s also reported other local cases where the Stand Your Ground law was considered but not used, such as in the case of Michael Drekja. Drekja shot and killed Markeis McGlockton in a Clearwater convenience store parking lot in 2018.

We also hear from Tallahassee lawyer Ben Crump at the beginning of the episode. WUSF reporter Bradley George talked with him about the impact of race and Stand Your Ground.

Crump will visit Tampa next week for an event at the Tampa Bay History Center.

You can listen to Newborn's conversation with Varn by clicking on the “Listen” button above. Or you can listen on the WUSF app under “Programs & Podcasts.”

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