The parents of a Hawaii man shot and killed during a 2011 confrontation with an off-duty federal agent at a Waikiki McDonald’s restaurant publicly pleaded today for a new, more aggressive prosecutor to handle the agent’s upcoming retrial.
Prosecutors charged State Department Special Agent Christopher Deedy with murder, but a jury in August wasn’t able to reach a verdict. A retrial is scheduled for June.
Jenell Elderts and her husband Kendall Elderts told reporters they were abandoned and lied to by prosecutors who didn’t ask the judge to allow the jury to consider a lesser manslaughter charge. They said they were promised manslaughter would be an option.
But Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro said in a statement today that no promises were ever made regarding charges.
Deedy was in Honolulu to help provide security for an economic summit in November 2011, and was off-duty when he went to the fast-food restaurant after a night of bar-hopping with friends.
He was charged with murder, with prosecutors claiming during trial that he was as an inexperienced agent who was intoxicated and defensive after being warned about the hostility of Hawaii locals toward outsiders.
Deedy testified that he was protecting himself and others by intervening when he saw Kollin Elderts harassing another customer. He said he fired his gun while Elderts was on top of him throwing punches.
Elderts, 23, died of a single gunshot wound to the chest. Deedy, 29, remains free on bail and has returned to the mainland.
"I think we need a different prosecutor," Jenell Elderts said today. "We just need a more aggressive approach to prosecuting this guy."
Kaneshiro said after the mistrial was declared that there was no evidence to support a manslaughter charge. He said the retrial will also be handled by the same prosecutor who tried the first trial: Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Janice Futa.
"We prosecute cases according to the evidence and the law and are not influenced by civil cases," Kaneshiro’s statement on Friday said.
Elderts’ parents have a civil suit pending against Deedy. Their attorney, Michael Green, said it was offensive prosecutors didn’t at least ask for manslaughter.
"At least it’s an issue to go up to the appellate court with," Green said. "I don’t buy their reason for it. It makes no sense."
Green’s comments could have an impact on the retrial and the civil case, said Brook Hart, who was Deedy’s lead defense attorney.
"The judge, prosecutor and defense counsel all agreed there was no evidence to support any instruction on reckless manslaughter," he said. "It’s not something the prosecutors did or failed to do. It’s the facts of the case."