Wednesday, November 25, 2015         

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Video of shooting by federal agent will remain sealed, judge rules

By Ken Kobayashi


Surveillance videos of a fatal shooting in Waikiki and defense documents related to a request asking for a dismissal of the murder charge against a federal agent will remain sealed.

Circuit Judge Karen Ahn today granted a request by city prosecutors to keep the videos and defense documents confidential.

In her 13-page ruling, Ahn said the release of video and defense filings which include Deedy's version of the shooting might jeopardize a fair trial for "the defense and/or prosecution."

 State Department special agent Christopher Deedy is charged with murder in the shooting of Kollin Elderts, 23,  at the McDonald's Kuhio Avenue restaurant.

 The McDonald's surveillance video of the fatal shooting the early morning of Nov. 5 was filed by the defense to support a request to dismiss the murder charge.

 Deedy, 28, was here to provide security at the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference.

  The defense is contending that Deedy was performing his duties as a federal law enforcement officer which would make him immune from the state prosecution.

Ahn ruled that the videos will be kept confidential until either a July 13 hearing on the defense dismissal request or the trial set for September.

Deedy’s lawyers have filed a request to push back the trial until March next year.

City Posecutor Keith Kaneshiro said his office “agrees with Judge Ahn’s reasoned and legally sound ruling.”

City Deputy Prosecutor Janice Futa had asked for the sealing of the defense filings.

She maintains that the video is irrelevant to the dismissal request and the defense submitted the filings to taint potential jurors in Deedy’s favor.

Deedy’s lawyer, Brook Hart, opposed the sealing. He said the video will help Ahn decide whether Deedy reasonably believed he was acting as a law enforcement officer.

Hart said today he had just reviewed the decision.

“I’m trying to determine what if anything my client would like to do about it,” he said.  “I haven’t had a chance to speak to him.”

Hart’s defense is that Deedy was acting to defend himself and others.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, its TV news partner Hawaii News Now and online news site Hawaii Reporter also opposed the sealing. 

Jeffrey Portnoy, the news organizations’ lawyer, argued that court filings have long been considered open to the public.

He contended the prosecution failed to establish the required “compelling reasons” to keep private the defense documents and surveillance videos.

Ed Lynch, Star-Advertiser managing editor for news, said the newspaper is reviewing its options.

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