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Fridays in federal agent's murder trial will be jury-free

The judge in Deedy's case limits testimony to four days a week to help prevent fatigue

By Nelson Daranciang

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 10:31 p.m. HST, Jul 17, 2013


In what is already expected to be a lengthy trial, the state judge in the murder trial of U.S. State Department special agent Christopher Deedy agreed Friday to have jurors sit through only four days per week of testimony and evidence, rather than five days.

Deedy, 28, is scheduled to stand trial in July for murder for fatally shooting 23-year-old Kollin Elderts in the chest in a Waikiki McDonald's restaurant on Nov. 5, 2011. Deedy is from Virgina but was in Hono­lulu to provide security for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference.

The prosecution says that after a night of drinking and bar-hopping, an off-duty Deedy threatened and kicked Elderts in the chest before shooting him.

Deedy claims that Elderts called him a "f----ing haole," challenged him to fight and was the aggressor.

Circuit Judge Karen Ahn will decide at trial whether Deedy's lawyers can tell jurors that Elderts had drugs and alcohol in his system.

The Honolulu medical examiner said Elderts had traces of cocaine and marijuana in his system and that his blood alcohol concentration was 0.12. The legal threshold for drunken driving is 0.08 BAC.

Prosecutor Janice Futa is asking Ahn to exclude that information.

Futa also asked Ahn to prohibit Deedy's lawyers from referring to him as a special agent.

Defense lawyer Brook Hart said Deedy is a special agent, and he objected to Futa portraying him as a tourist.

Ahn told the lawyers they can refer to Deedy however they want as long as they are consistent.

The judge had said she intended to hold trial five days per week in anticipation of the trial lasting through the end of August. She agreed to limit trial testimony to four days per week after Hart and Futa said five days of testimony per week, in a lengthy trial, would wear down the jurors, causing resentment and loss of concentration. Ahn told the lawyers to reserve Fridays for trial matters that do not require the jurors' presence.

Deedy had previously sought to have the murder charge against him dismissed on the grounds that he was performing his duties as a federal law enforcement officer. When he withdrew his request last month, he also gave up the opportunity to use that as a defense.

Hart said Friday that even though Deedy will not have that as a defense, he still has rights in connection with the performance of his duties as a special agent.

Hart has said that Deedy shot Elderts because he believed he was protecting himself and others.

Jury selection is also expected to be lengthy.

The court sent out questionnaires to 700 prospective jurors, and the first third are expected in court Monday for screening.

Ahn told the lawyers they can question the prospective jurors one at a time, outside the presence of the other prospective jurors.

<t0>Because of the amount of pretrial publicity about the case, Hart said he intends to ask all of the prospective juror whether they get their news primarily from the Internet, whether they read the comments and, if selected, how they plan to abide by court instructions to avoid media coverage about the case.






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