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‘Stand your ground’ hearing opens in Florida theater shooting

Curtis Reeves, shown in court in 2014, is accused of killing Chad Oulson in a movie theater.

(CNN) — Three years after a dispute over texting in a movie theater left a man dead, a “Stand Your Ground” hearing is underway for a former Tampa, Florida, police captain charged with murder.

The outcome of this hearing will determine whether Curtis Reeves, 74, stands trial for second-degree murder. He also could be cleared completely.

Reeves has maintained that he acted in self-defense in the January 2014 killing of Chad Oulson, 43, during a screening of “Lone Survivor” in suburban Tampa. Reeves says that after he complained about Oulson’s texting, the other man threw popcorn and a cell phone at him.

Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law allows people to use deadly force when they fear death or great bodily harm.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys faced off in court Monday. The hearing could last two weeks.

Witnesses said the two had become involved in a dispute over Oulson’s texting on his phone. Reeves and Oulson argued several times, and the disagreement escalated.

The men continued to exchange words and Oulson allegedly tossed a bag of popcorn at Reeves. The defense has said Oulson also threw his cell phone. Moments later, Reeves fired a single, fatal gunshot.

“The main argument that the state is going to make is, popcorn is not a deadly weapon. Therefore, he did not have the right to use deadly force,” legal analyst Jeff Swartz told CNN affiliate WFTS.

“The claim of the defense is that Mr. Oulson was committing a felony against Mr. Reeves by abuse of the elderly when he threw his cell phone at Mr. Reeves,” Swartz said.