State roundup for August 15
Punchbowl to add urn spaces
HONOLULU (AP) — The Department of Veterans Affairs plans to break ground in a few months on a project to create 7,000 more columbarium spaces for cremated remains at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.
The cemetery, known as Punchbowl, is the only national cemetery in Hawaii. Officials say it will run out of interment space in less than three years without the expansion.
The new spaces will be where the public information center and administrative offices are currently located. The offices and the visitors’ center will move to a new building the department plans to build outside the crater.
Cemetery spokeswoman Nadine Siak said the project is going out to bid this week. Construction is due to start in November.
The government estimates the project will cost between $10 million and $20 million.
Siak said another 5,300 columbarium spaces could be installed at a later date on the slope south of the American Battle Monuments Commission memorial, where a sculpture of Lady Columbia overlooks cemetery graves. Each urn niche is 10 inches high, 14 inches wide and 20 inches deep.
The department plans to build a new information center and administrative offices on the northeastern exterior flank near the entrance road that leads into Punchbowl crater.
The department is hosting a public meeting to discuss the plan Saturday morning at Keehi Lagoon Memorial Park.
Jurors limited in shooting case
HONOLULU (AP) — When jurors begin deliberating the fate of a federal agent accused of shooting and killing a man in Waikiki, they can only either convict or acquit him of murder.
Jurors won’t have the option of convicting State Department Special Agent Christopher Deedy on a lesser charge of manslaughter. He’ll either be convicted of second-degree murder or cleared of any criminal wrongdoing.
The jury could begin deliberations today after hearing closing arguments. Deedy is charged with second-degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of Kollin Elderts in a McDonald’s restaurant. He testified he was acting in self-defense and protecting others from an aggressive Elderts. The prosecution claims Deedy was intoxicated and inexperienced.
Elderts, 23, of Kailua, died of a single gunshot wound to the chest.
Circuit Court Judge Karen Ahn on Tuesday said neither the prosecution nor the defense asked her to instruct the jury that it could consider manslaughter.
“I don’t think there’s any evidence to support reckless manslaughter,” Ahn said during a hearing on instructions the jury will receive.
Deedy, 29, of Arlington, Va., was in Honolulu to help provide security for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.
Second-degree murder carries a mandatory term of life in prison with possibility for parole. Manslaughter would have meant a term of up to 20 years.
Closing arguments come after 20 days of testimony, including three days with Deedy on the witness stand, over a span of five weeks. The defense rested last week.
Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com
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