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Judge orders top Nocco aide to be deposed in theater shooting

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A high-ranking officer with the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office must give a deposition to attorneys for Curtis Reeves Jr., the retired Tampa police captain who faces charges in a fatal movie theater shooting, a judge ruled Thursday.

The sheriff’s office had tried to fight the effort to depose Col. Jeff Harrington, saying he had no relevant information, but Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa decided Harrington would have to answer the attorneys’ questions.

“Even though they are telling you he doesn’t have information, I am going to give you the opportunity to ask him yourself,” Siracusa told Dino Michaels, an attorney for Reeves.

A date for the deposition hasn’t been set.

Reeves, 71, faces a second-degree murder charge in the Jan. 13 death of Land O’ Lakes residence Chad Oulson, 43, who was shot in the chest during an argument with Reeves that began over Oulson texting during previews before a movie.

Reeves was not in court Thursday, but Oulson’s widow, Nicole Oulson, attended the hearing. She and her attorney did not make any comments, though.

The attorneys for Reeves also had planned to ask the judge for permission to move Reeves’ guns to the possession of a member of the Tampa Police bomb squad. Reeves isn’t allowed to have the guns, and one of his attorneys, Richard Escobar, has had them since Reeves was released on bail a few weeks ago.

At the last moment, though, Michaels withdrew that motion and said the guns would remain with Escobar.

Siracusa also agreed to a defense request to let Reeves, a Hernando County resident, visit his attorney’s office in Tampa during the time he is awaiting trial. Restrictions have been placed on where Reeves can go while he is out of jail on bail.

Most of Thursday’s hearing focused on Harrington and whether Reeves’ attorneys would be able to depose him. Harrington had originally been listed on the state attorney’s witness list, but was later removed.

Lindsay Moore, an attorney for the sheriff’s office, argued that Harrington would not be able to provide anything of relevance. He went to the movie theater that day, she said, but did not go inside where the shooting happened.

His role was to make sure those investigating had the resources they needed, Moore said, but he was not an active participant in the investigation.

“They aren’t entitled to go on a fishing expedition,” she said of Reeves’ attorneys.

Moore also said the case could set a “dangerous precedence” if Harrington can be called to give a deposition in every criminal case in Pasco, just because he might have information.

Michaels countered that until Harrington is questioned, it won’t be clear whether he has relevant information.

“I don’t think any individual is trying to hide anything,” Michaels said.

Often, though, people may not realize something they saw or heard is relevant until they are questioned about it, he said.

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