Federal agent’s murder trial begins
HONOLULU — A federal agent was fueled by alcohol, a sense of authority and a friend’s warning about hostility of locals when he shot and killed a man in a Waikiki McDonald’s, a prosecutor told jurors Monday.
The allegations came during opening statements at the murder trial of State Department Special Agent Christopher Deedy, 29, who is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 23-year-old Kollin Elderts of Kailua.
Soon after arriving in Honolulu to help provide security for the November 2011 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, Deedy was warned by a fellow agent about hostility by local residents toward newcomers, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Janice Futa said.
The agent told Deedy to be on his guard, and Deedy said he would carry his off-duty gun, Futa told jurors.
Deedy and two friends later went bar-hopping in Chinatown and Waikiki before going to the fast-food restaurant in the early morning hours of Nov. 5, 2011, Futa said.
Elderts, meanwhile, had been celebrating the birthdays of two friends, drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana, before he went to the McDonald’s, authorities said.
“Within six minutes of getting there, he was shot and died of that single gunshot wound,” Futa said.
Deedy was in the Diplomatic Security Service for less than two years and carried his gun that night despite a policy prohibiting consuming alcohol while armed, the prosecutor said.
Defense attorney Brook Hart countered in his opening statement that Deedy wasn’t drunk and only had beer earlier in the evening in Chinatown.
“Agent Deedy acted responsibly and in self-defense,” Hart said, telling jurors his client had provided security for Hilary Rodham Clinton.
Deedy took his gun with him that night because that’s what he normally did, not because of any warnings he may have received about hostility from locals, the defense lawyer said.
Hart told jurors that Deedy interceded when he noticed Elderts was bullying another customer. He said Deedy had tried to calm Elderts and showed him his credentials before drawing his weapon.
Hart said Elderts pushed Deedy and a shot fired. While Deedy was being hit in the face by Elderts, another shot went off, he said, hitting a wall. A third shot during the scuffle hit Elderts, the lawyer said.
Futa’s version painted Deedy as the aggressor who told Elderts while he was joking around that acting that way would get him shot.
“Everybody has a different recollection of the events that took place,” Futa said of witnesses, some of whom were drunk.
The prosecution was expected to begin calling witnesses later Monday.
The defense had hoped for a last-minute decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on a request to move the case from state court to federal court.
Lawyers for Deedy had argued that publicity about racial issues could hinder a fair trial. But hours before the trial began, the appellate court issued a ruling upholding the lower court’s ruling denying the move.
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