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Defense rests in Deedy murder trial

By Ken Kobayashi & Craig Gima

LAST UPDATED: 9:07 a.m. HST, Aug 12, 2013

Closing arguments in State Department special agent Christopher Deedy’s trial have been scheduled for Aug. 15.

Circuit Judge Karen Ahn told the jurors Thursday afternoon to report back to court that day to hear jury instructions and arguments by the defense and prosecution. The jury will then begin deliberations.

Ahn scheduled the arguments after the defense completed its case and the prosecution said it would not call any rebuttal witnesses.

The defense rested after Deedy completed his testimony and a retired Honolulu police lieutenant presented limited testimony on a 2008 disorderly misconduct conviction for Kollin Elderts, the man Deedy fatally shot at a McDonald’s restaurant early Nov. 5, 2011 in Waikiki.

Retired police Lt. Wayne Fernandez testified that Elderts was part of a large crowd in May 2008 and challenged others to a fight.

Fernandez said uniformed police officers tried to calm down Elderts, but he continued to challenge others.

When he was arrested, Elderts struggled, Fernandez said.

Fernandez said police did not see Elderts hit another person.

Deedy testified earlier today that he pulled out his 9 mm Glock handgun and shot Kollin Elderts because he was “in fear for my life” and for the life of his friend Adam Gutowski, who was bleeding and being beaten by Elderts’ friend Shane Medeiros.

Deedy returned to the witness stand in Honolulu Circuit Court this morning in his defense of a murder charge in the shooting death of Elderts, a 23-year-old Kailua resident.

“As a law enforcement officer once you’ve made that decision to pull that trigger you can never go back,” Deedy said. “I made an oath to serve and protect and that’s what I did. I intended to stop the threat.”

Deedy testified he believed Medeiros and Elderts were using “deadly force” when a fight broke out, even though they did not have weapons.

“It would have been reasonable use of force to shoot either of the assailants that were using deadly force,” Deedy said.

In a second day of cross-examination, Honolulu Deputy Prosecutor Janice Futa pressed Deedy on key points in the confrontation — why he stepped in when no crime had been committed and why he didn’t leave the restaurant before the confrontation turned violent.

Deedy said he stepped in after hearing a loud conversation between Elderts, Medeiros and another customer at the counter because he thought a fight might break out.

“I chose to respond immediately,” Deedy said. “That’s the way we’re trained if we see a violent situation escalating. If you respond after the violence occurred, then you respond too late.”

Deedy testified that he believed Elderts initiated the violence and that his kick to Elderts was a defensive action.

“He (Elderts) gathered himself, moved into position, clenched his fist and moved in quickly to strike me,” Deedy said about the seconds before he kicked Elderts. “We’re trained we don’t allow someone to strike you,” Deedy said. “That was a physical attack and I defended myself against a physical attack.”

On Wednesday, Futa asked Deedy whether he noticed the McDonald's workers joking with Elderts and Medeiros.

Deedy's defense is that he acted as a trained law enforcement officer in trying to defuse a potentially dangerous situation that started with an exchange between Elderts and another customer. Deedy has testified that Elderts became enraged and attacked him.

The prosecution's case is that a drunken and inexperienced Deedy threatened to shoot Elderts in the face, did not identify himself as a federal agent, and kicked Elderts to trigger the fatal struggle.

On Wednesday, Futa questioned Deedy about what he actually heard of the conversation between Elderts and Medeiros and customer Michel Perrine at the McDonald's counter and whether he really needed to get involved.

"You don't know whether they were talking or joking," Futa asked.

"I saw Mr. Perrine turn to Mr. Elderts when he said, ‘Just leave me alone,'" Deedy said.

"He wasn't being bothered by anything anybody said as far as you could see?" Futa continued.

"I saw Elderts again turn to him, Mr. Perrine, and say something," Deedy said. "I saw Mr. Perrine did not respond. … To me it looked intentional, like he was purposely not responding."

Futa asked, "At this point in time, no crime had been committed, correct?"— a question she repeated throughout her questioning Wednesday afternoon.

Today, Futa asked Deedy if he considered taking a more low-key approach, sitting down next to Perrine and calling police, instead of stepping in and confronting Elderts and Medeiros.

“My immediate reaction was to address the threat against Mr. Perrine, It was not to call the police and sit down next to Mr. Perrine,” Deedy said.

Deedy, 29, said Wednesday he was not sure that he could leave the McDonald's safely and that he felt responsible for the other people in the restaurant because of Elderts' aggressive behavior.

“When I stood up and saw Adam being kicked in the face, I could have ran, I knew I could have ran. But I could not have done that and assured his safety, so I chose not to do that,” Deedy said today.

Futa showed a portion of the video and noted that Deedy's friends Jessica West and Gutowski were leaving the restaurant and that West came back in and grabbed Deedy's arm, as if to pull him away.

"When she came back inside the McDonald's, she told you, ‘Let's go,'" Futa asked.

"I was interacting with Mr. Elderts," Deedy responded. "I didn't hear her say anything to me."

"You could have just walked out with Jessica West and not put anyone in danger. Is that correct?" Futa asked.

"He had just threatened to hurt me. If I had walked to his left or right, I don't know what would have happened," Deedy said.

This morning, Deedy clarified that he now recalls that at some point West did say “let’s go.”

Futa questioned Deedy about his agency’s policies on drinking alcohol and carrying weapons. She also asked about his training in getting people whom he protects out of dangerous situations.

Deedy testimony began Tuesday under questioning by his lead attorney, Brook Hart. The special agent painted Elderts as the aggressor and said the Kailua man continued to assault him even after he identified himself as a law enforcement officer and took out his gun.

Deedy testified that Elderts didn't back off even after the agent drew his gun.

"I hoped, I prayed that he would stop," the agent said Wednesday.

Elderts was killed by a shot to his chest.

Late Wednesday,  Ahn ruled that Elderts' 2008 disorderly conduct conviction can be introduced as evidence. Ahn said Deedy's testimony had established that there was enough of an issue as to who was the initial aggressor in the fatal shooting to allow the jury to hear about the prior conviction.

Futa argued that the disorderly conduct conviction would be "highly, highly prejudicial" to the prosecution's case.

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