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Lawyers give conflicting accounts of fatal Waikiki shooting

    Christopher Deedy, second from right, listens to the prosecution's opening statements in his murder trial today. From left to right, Deedy's attorneys Brook Hart, Margaret Nammar. Deedy, and co-counsel Karl Blanke.
    People lined up to get into Judge Karen Ahn's courtroom just before 9 a.m. this morning.
    Protesters demanding justice for Kollin Elderts demonstrated in front of Circuit Court this morning.

A Circuit Court jury heard two widely conflicting accounts this morning about who instigated the deadly confrontation that resulted in State Department special agent Christopher Deedy fatally shooting a 23-year-old Kailua man at a McDonald’s restaurant in Waikiki early Nov. 20, 2011.

City Deputy Prosecutor Janice Futa told the jurors she will be asking them to convict Deedy of second-degree murder, while Deedy’s lawyer Brook Hart said Deedy acted in self defense and should be acquitted of shooting Kollin Elderts who attacked him and tried to grab the agent’s gun.

In her opening remarks, Futa told the jurors that Deedy was driven by “alcohol, inexperience, and the unmitigated power of a gun” when he shot Elderts.

She said in the moments leading to the altercation, Deedy told Elderts: “Acting like that is going to get you shot,” “do you want to get shot,” and “I’m going to shoot you.”

Elderts was killed by a shot to the chest.

He is also charged with a firearm violation of using a gun to commit a felony.

Hart told the jury that Elderts attacked Deedy, drove him into the back corner of the restaurant, grabbed Deedy’s gun, mounted him, and started beating him in the face before Deedy fatally shot him.

“Agent Deedy acted responsibly in self defense as a federal agent when he did what he did,” Hart said. “And the evidence will show that he used a number of measured steps to try to sway Mr. Elderts” from the violent assault.

Hart told the jury that Deedy had been drinking beer earlier, but was not under the influence of alcohol during the altercation.

Deedy, 29, of Arlington, Va., was in Honolulu to help provide security for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference.

Deedy has been free on $250,000 bond and permitted to return to work at the State Department.   He has returned for his jury trial.

The trial in Circuit Judge Karen Ahn’s courtroom is expected to last one to two months.

If convicted of second-degree murder, Deedy faces a mandatory life term with parole.  The firearm charge carries a maximum 20-year prison term.

The jury will likely also have the option of rejecting a murder conviction and convicting Deedy on a lesser charge of manslaughter, which carries a maximum 20-year term.

The shooting occurred just before the start of the APEC summit and generated massive publicity with national and international media here for the conference.

A half dozen protestors lined Punchbowl Street this morning near the front of the Circuit Court building holding signs stating “Justice for Kollin Elderts."

Liz Rees, who said she represents protest group “World Can’t Wait,” likened today’s court session to the murder trial of Trayvon Martin in Miami.

Rees said “it’s really important to make the connection. We demand justice for Trayvon Martin and Kollin Elderts.”

“They are both victims of a racist system.”

There also was a line in front of Ahn’s third floor courtroom before the 9 a.m. opening session with the clerk telling the crowd that everyone would not get seated.


Gregg K. Kakesako contributed to this report.

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