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Defendant's breath went untested, ex-detective says of federal agent

By Ken Kobayashi

LAST UPDATED: 5:23 p.m. HST, Jul 31, 2013

A retired Honolulu police detective testified Tuesday that police didn't obtain a blood alcohol reading from State Department special agent Christopher Deedy because he refused to take a breath test.

Theodore Coons said that by the time he learned of the refusal some nine hours after the 2011 fatal shooting in Waikiki, it was too late to get a search warrant to test Deedy and get an accurate reading.

He testified that it would have taken another three to five hours to obtain a search warrant. After 14 hours the test wouldn't be reliable, he said. "You could even be sober," Coons said.

Coons, one of the two primary detectives investigating the case, also testified that the second of three gunshots fired by Deedy killed Kollin Elderts.

The defense has maintained that the third and final shot fired by Deedy killed Elderts as he was on top of the agent and grabbing the gun.

Coons is the final witness for the city prosecutor's case in Deedy's trial on a charge of murdering Elderts the early morning of Nov. 5, 2011, at the McDonald's restaurant on Kuhio Avenue.

Coons, who retired last year, retakes the stand today for cross-examination.

The defense is scheduled to open its case later in the day by calling its first witness, Jessica West, the girlfriend of Deedy's friend Adam Gutow­ski.


State Department special agent Christopher Deedy is scheduled to open his defense today with its first witness, Jessica West, girlfriend of his friend Adam Gutowski. The prosecution is expected to rest its case earlier in the day with the completion of the testimony from its final witness, retired Honolulu Police Detective Theodore Coons.

The defense case is expected to span about two weeks.

Deedy's attorney Brook Hart said prior to the trial that Deedy is "highly likely" to testify, but the defense would reserve making a final decision until the prosection rests its case.

Deedy, 29, who was here to provide security at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference, is charged with murdering Elderts, 23, of Kailua.

The prosecution contends that Deedy was inexperienced in the job and fueled by alcohol in being armed while drinking at five Chinatown and Waikiki bars before ending up at McDonald's and shooting the unarmed Elderts.

Deedy had been an agent for about two years prior to the shooting.

Gutowski and West were with Deedy at the bars and McDonald's.

Deedy's defense is that he drank beer but wasn't drunk when he went to McDonald's and relied on his training as a federal law enforcement officer to defuse an escalating and dangerous situation that started with a drunken Elderts bullying a customer.

The defense contends that Deedy identified himself and showed his badge, which angered Elderts, who attacked him.

The degree to which Deedy was influenced by alcohol has become a key issue, with police and McDonald's customers testifying Deedy was drunk or appeared to be drunk.

But an emergency room doctor who examined Deedy that early morning said the agent did not appear to be intoxicated.

On the 14th day of the trial, Coons testified that arrestees in felony cases are routinely processed and given breath tests for alcohol.

He said Deedy refused to take the test.

Coons distinguished felony arrestees from drivers suspected of drunken driving, who are required to take the alcohol breath tests.

He said he could have gotten a search warrant that would have enabled police to get a blood sample for alcohol testing.

But Coons testified he was involved in the investigation at the McDonald's scene and interviewing witnesses. It wasn't until he returned to the police station nine hours after the shooting that he learned about Deedy's refusal, Coons said.

Coons also testified that Deedy fired three shots, two of which hit the restaurant's walls.

He said the first and third shots hit the walls and that the second was the fatal shot.

Coons said his investigation relied on the McDonald's surveillance video. He said the gunshot residue on Elderts and the downward direction of the bullet through Elderts' chest suggested it wasn't a point-blank shot.

He also said Deedy's shirt was covered with Elderts' blood.

"It's an awful lot of blood to have just been generated from the last shot," he testified.

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