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Posted on February 17, 2022 by in Uncategorized

“Popcorn Murder” Trial Coverage by Andrew Branca Day 1

The opinions and statements made in this article are solely those of Andrew Branca and do not represent any position or opinion of CCW Safe. We chose to share this content in order to provide some insight to the trial process. 

Popcorn Murder Trial Day 1: Poor Opening Statements, Victim’s Wife Testifies

Monday was the first day of the popcorn murder trial, in which retired SWAT cop Curtis Reeves is being tried for the shooting death of Chad Oulson for shooting Oulson dead during a dispute in a movie theater on January 13, 2014.  You can find our prior coverage of this case covered in detail here:

It was, frankly, a less than exciting first day of trial.  The State’s opening statement was, at best, deliberately misleading.  The State repeatedly characterized Chad Oulson as being a “full row” away from Curtis Reeves, as if there was some substantial distance between the two men–despite the fact that Oulson was seated in the row immediately in front of Reeves, so really just inches away.  The State also repeatedly told the jury that “their witness” would testify to such-and-such, but without stating that this unnamed “witness” was Nicole Oulson, the wife of the victim.

Unfortunately for defendant Curtis Reeves, the defense opening statement was even worse–not in terms of deliberate deception, but in terms of being simply boring.  The defense also spent much of its opening actually delivering evidence–not something normally done in opening statements, nor even appropriate for opening statements.  The State repeatedly objected to this, which objections were repeatedly sustained by Judge Susan Barthle–not a good look for the defense.

After opening statements, the State spent just over an hour introducing into evidence a series of stipulated surveillance videos from the theater–an excruciatingly boring process, much of which was consumed by a simple “blue screen” displayed on the courtroom TV.

The first actual witness of the trial was Nicole Oulson.  The State direct was, again, excruciatingly boring, taking almost 2 1/2 hours.  The defense cross was less than 15 minutes and was much more focused. To the defense’s credit, they also managed to substantively impeach Oulson’s testimony, without overreaching.  The State then followed with a very brief re-direct, after which the court finally recessed after a very, very long day.

State Opening Statement

Defense Opening Statement

State Introduces Surveillance Video

Nicole Oulson Direct Testimony

Nicole Oulson Cross-Examination

Nicole Oulson Re-Direct Testimony


You carry a gun so you’re hard to kill.

Know the law so you’re hard to convict.

Stay safe!


Attorney Andrew F. Branca

Law of Self Defense LLC

Nothing in this content constitutes legal advice. Nothing in this content establishes an attorney-client relationship, nor confidentiality. If you are in immediate need of legal advice, retain a licensed, competent attorney in the relevant jurisdiction.


Attorney Andrew F. Branca is in his third decade of practicing law, specializing in self-defense law of the United States, where he is an internationally recognized expert.  Andrew has contributed in this context by the Wall Street Journal, National Review, the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post, and many others, including nationally syndicated broadcast media.  Andrew is also a host on the Outdoor Channel’s TV show The Best Defense and contributor to the National Review Online.

Andrew is a former Guest Instructor and subject matter expert (SME) on self-defense law at the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy at Quantico and the Sig Sauer Academy, an NRA Life-Benefactor member, an NRA Certified Instructor, an IDPA Charter/Life member (IDPA #13), and a Master-class competitor in multiple IDPA divisions.  Andrew teaches lawyers how to argue self-defense cases as a certified instructor with the Continuing Legal Education (CLE) system in numerous states around the country.

In addition to being a lawyer, Andrew is also a competitive handgun shooter, an IDPA Charter/Life member (IDPA #13), and a Master-class competitor in multiple IDPA divisions.

Recently, Andrew won the UC Berkeley Law School Debate on “Stand-Your-Ground,” and spoke at the NRA Annual Meeting on self-defense law.