‘Stand Your Ground’ Rejected in Florida Theater Killing

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Retired Tampa Bay police captain Curtis Reeves Jr. will face second-degree murder and aggravated battery charges after a judge rejected his petition to dismiss the case based on Florida’s “stand your ground” law, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Reeves killed Chad Oulson at a suburban Tampa theater in 2014 over Oulson’s use of a cell phone during previews of the movie “Lone Survivor.” The ruling comes as Florida’s state senate prepares to vote on a bill that would force prosecutors to prove that a defendant was not acting in self-defense before cases are brought to trial. That would shift the burden of proof away from defendants, putting Florida at the vanguard of the two dozen states with laws permitting the use of force in self-defense – in some cases, deadly force – in confrontations where a person “fears death or great bodily harm.”

Reeves argued that the dispute became a “life or death struggle,” claiming that Oulson had struck him with either his fist or cell phone and cornered him in his seat. The judge rejected that account, finding that surveillance video countered Reeves’ claims of being hit or menaced by Oulson.  The bill being considered by Florida’s Senate has opposition from Democrats and prosecutors, who say it would stack the odds against victims of gun crimes and encourage vigilantism.Among supporters of the bill is Marissa Alexander, who was convicted in 2012 to 20 years in prison for firing what she calls a “warning shot” near her estranged husband, in another high-profile, stand-your-ground case in Florida. Alexander’s conviction was later thrown out, and she was freed in a 2014 plea deal.

 

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