County Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro said today that he will appeal a court ruling that federal agent Christopher Deedy does not have to face a third trial for fatally shooting a man at a Waikiki fast-food restaurant in 2011.
“This case involves the unjustified killing of Kollin Elderts, a young Hawaii man,” he said in a brief statement. “It is our moral and ethical obligation to pursue all legal remedies. We will seek justice by taking this case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.”
Earlier today, U.S. District Court Derrick Watson issued a decision that agreed with Deedy’s attorneys, who had argued that standing trial for manslaughter after having been acquitted of murder for shooting Elderts would violate the protection against double jeopardy in the U.S. Constitution.
Watson directed the state to release Deedy from the conditions of bail and of his supervised pretrial release, a status he’s been under for seven years. But that order will be put on hold if prosecutors obtain a stay from the federal appeals court.
Deedy, 33, has already stood trial twice for the November 2011 shooting in a Waikiki McDonald’s. Deedy was a State Department federal agent as part of the security detail assigned to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting of leaders from throughout the region and United States, including then-President Barack Obama. Deedy and Elderts got into a fight and the federal agent shot the Windward Oahu man.
Deedy argued that he had properly identified himself as a federal agent and was acting in self defense.
The first trial ended with the jurors deadlocked 8-4 in favor of finding Deedy not guilty of murder. The jury was not given the opportunity to consider any other charge.
The second trial ended with the jurors deadlocked 7-5 in favor of finding Deedy not guilty of manslaughter. At the request of Deedy attorney Thomas Otake’s request, state Circuit Judge Karen Ahn acquitted Deedy of murder. She also ordered a third trial for manslaughter.
In the meantime, Deedy appealed to the Hawaii Supreme Court, but all of his double-jeopardy claims were rejected by the high court.
A third trial had been scheduled for October.
Otake said at the time that the trials have drained Deedy financially.
In April, Deedy filed a federal petition claiming that a third trial would violate his guarantee against double jeopardy, and that’s when the case landed in Watson’s courtroom.
In his ruling today, Watson said that with the circuit court determination that there was no evidence of recklessness by Deedy and the resulting decision not to instruct or submit the reckless manslaughter claim to the jury in the first trial, it was enough to represent an acquittal for the purposes of double jeopardy.
Watson also rejected city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro’s attempts to strike down the Deedy petition due to alleged process errors and jurisdictional and procedural defects.