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Jury in Deedy murder case goes home, will return Monday

By Ken Kobayashi and Craig Gima

LAST UPDATED: 5:26 p.m. HST, Aug 15, 2013

The jury in the Christopher Deedy murder trial deliberated for about three hours this afternoon before going home for a three-day weekend. They will resume deliberations on Monday.

The jury got the case after closing arguments this morning.

The prosecution and defense used  McDonald’s surveillance tapes, a key piece of evidence, to paint different pictures of who the aggressor was in the confrontation that led to the fatal shooting of Kollin Elderts in a Waikiki McDonald’s on Nov. 5, 2011.

Calling defendant Christopher Deedy a “bully with a badge,” Honolulu Deputy Prosecutor Janice Futa said Elderts was trying to defend himself from the intoxicated federal agent, who had pulled out a gun without legal justification. But defense attorney Karl Blanke said Deedy was the one who acted in self-defense. “Kollin Elderts is the one who took this to deadly force,” Blanke said.

Deedy’s attorney argued that by tackling Deedy to the ground and grabbing for his weapon, Elderts created a threat to Deedy that forced him to act in self-defense. “Deadly force has been used by Kollin Elderts as soon as he drops Christopher Deedy to the ground,” Blanke said. “When an officer goes to the ground that is a deadly force situation.”

Blanke went over the security camera video from the McDonald’s and pointed out instances in the video where he said shows Elderts was the aggressor.

“He (Deedy) doesn’t want to shoot anybody. He wants them to stop,” Blanke said. “He’s using the threat of deadly force to get them to stop, but Kollin Elderts continues to come at him.”

But Futa said the video shows Deedy was the aggressor, meddling in a situation that he did not have to get involved in and by not walking away when tensions escalated.

“He (Deedy) caused that dangerous situation. He is the one who kicked Kollin Elderts,” Futa said.

Futa argued that Deedy’s intoxication and inexperience contributed to the shooting.

As Futa began her argument, she said the jury cannot decide the case based on sympathy for Elderts or Deedy, nor what kind of person was or Deedy is. “Whether you personally think one person is better than the other, it doesn’t matter...,” Futa said.  “You have to look at the specific conduct.”

The prosecutor said the video shows Elderts and Elderts’ friend Shane Medeiros were joking with McDonald’s cashiers and with customer Michel Perrine when Deedy noticed them and stepped in.

“There was no reason for the defendant to get involved,” Futa said. She said Perrine was drunk, ignored Elderts and Medeiros, and did not feel he needed help. But Futa said, “He (Deedy) had to meddle... He came out of nowhere to address Kollin, who was merely siting at the table crossing his arms and waiting for his food.”

Futa argued that Deedy pulled out a gun and fired the first shot, without identifying himself clearly as a law enforcement officer and without justification.

She said Deedy had no right to bring out his gun because he was not in danger of death or serious bodily injury.

“Serious bodily injury has a specific definition. It’s not just a broken nose,” she said.

“Just geting dirty lickings, that doesn’t count as serious bodily injury,” she continued.

But Blanke said Deedy acted reasonably, and followed his training, as Elderts ignored Deedy’s commands to stop and Deedy was put in a position where he had to defend himself.

“What Special Agent Deedy did was reasonable under the circumstances,” Blanke said. “Special Agent Deedy did not attack Kollin Elderts. Kollin Elderts attacked him. Kollin Elderts attacked (Deedy’s friend) Adam Gutowski when he was on the ground.”

No one disputes Deedy shot and killed Elderts, Blanke said. But he didn't murder Elderts, he said.

Deedy's "intent was to protect life," Blanke said, who noted that the victim had been drinking heavily and doing drugs

During Futa's rebuttal, she suggested Deedy didn't retreat because he felt disrespected by Elderts, who slapped the agent and tackled him to the ground. "How do you think that sat with a trained agent with the State Department," she asked.

Blanke asked jurors if they wanted a law enforcement officer who walks away from danger. Futa countered that the public doesn't want an officer who sees a fistfight and thinks he can shoot someone. She asked: "Is this the kind of law enforcement officer you want around your Honolulu, your Waikiki?"

The State Department special agent was in Hawaii for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation conference when the shooting occurred at 2:45 a.m. at the restaurant on Kuhio Avenue.

Deedy, 29, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of  Elderts, 23.

The jury will not have the option of considering a conviction on a lesser offense of manslaughter.

Jurors must consider whether Deedy "intentionally or knowingly" caused Elderts' death and whether he acted in self-defense.

Second-degree murder carries a mandatory life term with possibility of parole. Deedy is also charged with a companion count of using a firearm to commit a felony.

Ahn said Tuesday she was not instructing the jury that it could consider manslaughter, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

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