Since April, Christopher Deedy’s life in Hawaii has revolved around his lawyer’s downtown Honolulu office, where he devoted himself to fighting a murder charge after shooting and killing a man in a Waikiki McDonald’s restaurant in 2011, his attorney said.
Now that a mistrial was declared Monday, Deedy returns home to Arlington, Va., and to his job as a special agent with the U.S. Department of State. But he’ll have to come back and do it all over again.
Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro said today that his office intends to re-try the case.
Defense attorney Brook Hart said Deedy didn’t stray far from his office while staying in different Honolulu locations. “He’s been spending his days here preparing for and being involved as a defendant in a high-profile murder case in which he was falsely accused,” Hart said today. “He was responsible and focused and diligent in his efforts to be part of his defense. He put in an enormous amount of time and energy into the activity, to the exclusion of just about everything else in his life.”
Free on $250,000 bail, Deedy, 29, was allowed to travel back to the mainland, but spent months in Hawaii working on his defense, which centered on his claims that he acted in self-defense and was protecting others when he shot Kollin Elderts, 23, of Kailua, during a scuffle. Prosecutors portrayed him as intoxicated and inexperienced agent who didn’t need to resort to deadly force. Jurors couldn’t agree on whether Deedy was guilty of second-degree murder.
Attorneys were scheduled to meet Friday to discuss scheduling a new trial.
Hart said Deedy and his family won’t be at the meeting because some of them left Monday night and the others are leaving today. “I imagine he’s feeling that he’ll have to gird up to prepare himself again,” Hart said.
The State Department said Deedy was believed to be back in the metro-D.C. area today and would be resuming administrative desk work.
Deedy’s three days of testimony could be beneficial for the prosecution during a new trial, University of Hawaii criminal law professor Kenneth Lawson said. “Now the prosecution knows exactly what Deedy is going to say. They know how he appears in front of a jury,” he said.
Both sides are now on an even playing field, with the prosecution armed with more information about the defense, Kaneshiro said.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Janice Futa said after the mistrial was declared that the biggest challenge was getting witnesses to be in court when they were needed to testify.
That may be even harder for a re-trial, Lawson said, but if certain requirements are met, the judge can allow for transcripts to be used. “That’s not as effective as having the actual person there,” he said.
But hope for a conviction will depend on whether the prosecution asks that jurors be allowed to consider manslaughter, Lawson said, attributing the lack of a manslaughter option to the hung jury.
Kaneshiro said the judge must instruct jurors to consider manslaughter if the evidence supports it. He said he agrees with Judge Karen Ahn’s ruling that there wasn’t evidence to support reckless manslaughter.
“It doesn’t matter if we ask for it or not,” he said.