The city prosecutor’s office plans to try State Department federal agent Christopher Deedy a third time in the shooting death of Kollin Elderts at a Waikiki McDonald’s following a Hawaii Supreme Court decision today that denied an appeal by Deedy.
“We are gratified to know the Hawaii Supreme Court agrees with our position that there is legal and factual basis to allow the case against Christopher Deedy to be retried,” city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro said this afternoon. ” We will be pursuing a manslaughter conviction. Deputy Prosecutor Janice Futa will handle the case.”
Deedy’s attorney, Thomas Otake, said that they will be appealing the ruling to a federal court, either the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals or directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. He said the appeal could “take years.”
Otake said his client, who remains a State Department employee on the East Coast, was “obviously very disappointed” after hearing about today’s ruling.
Deedy fatally shot 23-year-old Elderts in the Kuhio Avenue McDonald’s restaurant early on the morning of Nov. 5, 2011, after a verbal confrontation escalated into a physical altercation. The Washington, D.C.-based special agent was in Honolulu to provide security for the multinational Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference. He had been on Oahu barely 12 hours and had been out drinking with friends before the shooting.
Deedy’s first Circuit Court trial in 2013 ended in a deadlocked jury. A second jury a year later acquitted Deedy of second-degree murder but remained deadlocked on the charges of reckless manslaughter and assault in the first degree. Circuit Judge Karen Ahn, who presided over Deedy’s first two trials, ordered a third trial on the manslaughter and assault charge.
While Deedy was cleared of second-degree murder in the second trial, the Circuit Court concluded that Deedy could be retried on the outstanding charges, according to Supreme Court Justice Richard Pollack’s opinion. Deedy filed a motion to dismiss the case in 2014, which was denied in Circuit Court.
In his appeal to the state Supreme Court, Deedy argued several points, including that he could not be tried again on “the principles of double jeopardy under the state and federal constitutions;” that the Circuit Court abused its discretion in failing to dismiss the case; and that he was immune from state prosecution as a federal agent, according to Pollack’s opinion.
But the Supreme Court disagreed, ruling that the law does not bar Deedy from being retried on the manslaughter and assault offenses. “This case is remanded to the Circuit Court for further proceedings,” Pollack wrote in the majority opinion.
In a dissenting opinion, Justice Paula Nakayama wrote, “I would hold that the state is judicially estopped from retrying Deedy’s case, and that the Circuit Court abused its discretion in denying his motion to dismiss.”
Deedy testified in both trials that he shot Elderts to protect himself and others from assault at the hands of Elderts and the Kailua man’s friend, Shane Medeiros. He said he identified himself as a law enforcement officer before drawing his personal handgun and that he was not drunk.
The prosecution said Deedy was drunk and that he did not identify himself as a law enforcement officer before firing his weapon.