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Deedy retrial begins in Waikiki fatal shooting case

By Nelson Daranciang

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 09:26 p.m. HST, Jul 10, 2014

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The murder retrial of U.S. State Department Special Agent Christopher Deedy got underway in state court Thursday morning with both sides attempting to focus the jury on whether Deedy was drunk, provoked and if he identified himself as a law enforcement officer before fatally shooting Kollin Elderts in a Waikiki McDonald's restaurant in November 2011.

The opening statements closely mirrored arguments from last summer's trial, which ended with the jury deadlock.

Defense lawyer Thomas Otake told the jurors that Deedy, 30, was not drunk. He said Deedy identified himself as a law enforcement officer before shooting Elderts, 23, after Elderts and his friend attacked Deedy and his friend.

"He did what he had to do. And the evidence will show that it was an act of self-defense, defense of others and the use of force by a law enforcement officer," Otake said.

Prosecutor Janice Futa told the jurors it was Deedy who attacked Elderts, and that the special agent was drunk and did not identify himself as a law enforcement to anyone in the restaurant until after the shooting.  

"Based upon the credible evidence that will be presented to you in this case, the state will ask at the close of the trial that you find the defendant Christopher Deedy unjustifiably used his firearm to intentionally and knowingly cause the death of Kollin Elderts." 

Deedy testified in his own defense during the first trial. Otake told the jurors the Deedy will testify in the retrial.

The first trial ended with the jurors deadlocked over whether to acquit Deedy or find him guilty of second-degree murder.

Deedy is assigned to work in Washington, D.C., but was in Hawaii in November 2011 to provide security for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. The high-profile international event included President Barack Obama, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and dozens of leaders and top officials from the Pacific Rim. 

Deedy had arrived in Honolulu about 12 hours before the shooting. 

Jury selection for the retrial ended Wednesday with a panel of five men and seven women. The four alternate jurors are three women and one man.

Deedy, of Arlington, Va., is accused of murdering Elderts, of Kailua, with a gunshot to the chest at the Kuhio Avenue McDonald's in the early morning of Nov. 5, 2011. 

The defense contends that a combative and inebriated Elderts continued to fight him after Deedy identified himself as a special agent and took out his gun. The prosecution argues that Deedy was drunk, was leery after receiving a warning about hostile locals, and had started the altercation.

Deedy's first trial ended on Aug. 26 in a mistrial after the jury, who were not allowed to consider manslaughter as a lesser charge, could not agree on a second-degree murder conviction.

The first jury considered 20 days of testimony in the high-profile case and reviewed recordings from McDonald's soundless surveillance cameras and a cell-phone video, which are expected to feature prominently in the retrial.

While the fight between Elderts and Deedy and the shooting were captured by the cameras, the defense and prosecution in the first trial offered widely different accounts of what the jury was seeing.

Prosecutors portrayed Deedy as a "bully with a badge," while the defense contended that Elderts knocked Deedy to the ground and hit him, placing the federal agent in a "deadly force" situation.

Circuit Judge Karen Ahn is again presiding over the retrial. Futa will lead the prosecution again but Deedy has a new defense team led by Otake. In last year's trial, attorney Brook Hart led the defense.

Ahn ruled this week that, unlike in the previous trial, the defense will not be able to present a witness to testify that Elderts had cocaine in his system and was high when he died.

She also ruled that the jury will not be allowed to see part of a cell-phone video showing Deedy trying to provide aid to Elderts after the shooting.

------

The Associated Press contributed to this report.






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