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Pasco Movie Theater Shooting Trial Delayed Again Due To The Coronavirus

Curtis Reeves (center), sits beside his defense attorneys Dino Michaels (left) and Richard Escobar
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 trial for a former Tampa police captain who fatally shot a man inside a Pasco County movie theater six years ago has been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Curtis Reeves Jr., who is now 77, is charged with the second-degree murder of Chad Oulson during an argument over the use of a cellphone in a Wesley Chapel movie theater on January 13, 2014.

Oulson had been texting his daughter during the movie previews. Reeves, who was sitting behind him and, apparently annoyed by the behavior, asked him to stop. There was an argument during which witnesses said popcorn was thrown by Oulson and Reeves responded by shooting Oulson in the chest.

READ MORE: Coverage of the Pasco movie theater shooting

The trial had already been delayed because of deliberations over Reeves’ desire to use the state's "stand your ground" law as a defense.

The trial, which is expected to last three weeks, was set to start October 4. 

The Tampa Bay Times reports that Reeves’ attorney, Richard Escobar, said Tuesday it won’t be possible to start a trial until there’s a coronavirus vaccine. Judge Kemba Johnson Lewis set a new trial date of April 5, 2021. Three days were left scheduled in October to work on pretrial issues.

Reeves will remain on house arrest.

The pandemic has suspended most statewide legal proceedings requiring in-person contact since March.

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Mark Schreiner is the assistant news director and intern coordinator for WUSF News.