There is a new development in the Deedy/Elderts murder case in Hawai’i. My first article on this case is here: http://teri.nicedriving.org/2011/11/a-murder-in-hawaii/
Here is a brief summary from my second article to bring you up to speed (link to the full article at the end of this quote):
[…]The gist of the case is as follows: on the 5th of November, a special agent named Christopher Deedy, assigned to protect diplomats who would be attending the APEC conference in Hawaii, went out on the town. For some reason, he was carrying his gun and a knife while out drinking. He had an argument of some sort with a 23-year-old Hawaiian resident named Kollin Elderts while both were drinking in a bar. Elderts left the bar and went to the nearby McDonald’s. Special Agent Deedy followed Elderts there. Their argument apparently continued. Eye-witness testimonies differ slightly on several small details, which I will point out as they occur in the story. The internet has now been scrubbed of the witness statements and 911 calls, and even some of the original news stories have disappeared.
At the McDonald’s, the two men (and possibly several others, friends of one or the other – accounts differ) argued. Tests on Elderts’ body later showed that he was legally drunk at the time of his death. Deedy “declined” a blood-alcohol test, although a number of witnesses said he appeared intoxicated. At one point, Elderts laughingly asked Deedy, “What are you going to do – shoot me?”, to which Deedy responded, “How would you like to get shot tonight?” All witnesses agree that Deedy then kicked Elderts in the chest, knocking him down. Deedy then pulled out his service revolver and fired three shots, one of which hit Elderts in the chest, killing him. At this point, accounts differ again. According to one witness, Deedy left the McDonald’s immediately, but came back in when sirens were heard. According to other witnesses, Deedy never left. In any case, by the time the police and paramedics got there, Deedy had pulled out his knife, cut open Elderts’ shirt, and started CPR on Elderts. [This is the strangest way to perform CPR I’ve ever heard of and I dare not speculate on why Deedy pulled out his knife. I leave that to your imagination.]
A security tape from inside the McDonald’s exists and was used to charge Deedy with 2nd degree murder. This tape has not been released to the public, although it would answer any questions as to the sequence of events and who “aggressed” on whom. It is known for certain, however, that Elderts had no weapon of any sort. The police also have bar receipts showing Deedy’s purchases at the bar earlier which would offer evidence of how much he drank and verify the fact that he was in the bar at the same time as Elderts and did, in fact, follow Elderts to the McDonald’s. The claim that Deedy was acting in self-defense or in defense of others is peculiar, considering that Elderts was unarmed and had already been knocked to the ground by Deedy’s karate kick to the chest.[…]
Deedy was charged with 2nd degree murder (rather than 1st degree), and was allowed to go free after posting a $250,000 bond. He was placed on paid administrative leave from the State Department and told to remain in Hawaii. Now, however, he has been allowed to return to his home in Virginia and will work at a desk job at the State Dept. I don’t know what you have to do to actually get fired from the State Dept, but apparently murdering the locals doesn’t do it. The trial has been postponed until September.[…] Nowhere is it explained why a person who is charged with murder, State Dept. employee or not, was set free on bail or allowed to leave the state in which he is charged.[…] In any case, Deedy was on paid leave during this time. His income has not been affected by the murder charges, except to the extent that he had to rent a condo in paradise while awaiting trial. The State Department will not answer any questions on this case beyond saying that they “support” Deedy; I wonder if their support included paying his Hawaiian condo rent until he returned home on Saturday.
[From news article Honolulu, Hawaii 31 Dec, 2011
by Ken Kohnyashi]:
Agent accused in fatal shooting can travel. Christopher Deedy will return to live and work in Virginia until his trial.
State Department special agent Christopher Deedy can now return home to Virginia pending his trial in September on charges of murdering a 23-year-old Kailua man early Nov 5 at the McDonald’s restaurant on Kuhio Avenue.
Circuit Judge Karen Ahn granted a request Friday by Deedy’s lawyer Brook Hart to modify the bail conditions to allow him to leave Hawaii and reside at his Virginia home and work at a desk job with the State Department.[…]
She also set conditions that include requiring that Deedy be unarmed and work at a desk job. In addition, he cannot travel beyond 100 miles of his home.[…] -the Star Advertiser, print version.
[Teri]: Actually, he has already returned home; he immediately took a late night flight back to Virginia after the hearing. Guess arranging for a flight isn’t so difficult when you have the support of the State Department.
[from news article]: 27-year-old Christopher Deedy returned to his home in Virginia Saturday after gaining special permission to leave Oahu while awaiting trial[…]
He will not return to his normal work as a State Dept. agent, according to Hart. He will continue working for the department as an analyst and is not permitted to have his weapon or engage in other security detail. Under the special agreement Deedy must also stay within a 100 mile radius of his Northern Virginia home.
Deedy’s lawyer issued assurances that he will return to court when criminal proceedings continue, which is currently set for September 10, 2012.[…]
A few points that I bring up in the comment section in the above article:
1) If Deedy had identified himself first, eye-witnesses would have said so. Not one single person interviewed for the news stories made any such remark, nor did anyone in the 911 tapes. Deedy was only referred to as “a guy”, “someone” or “a caucasian” who got in a fight with “another guy”, etc. Secondly, if he had properly ID’d himself, his attorney certainly would have brought that to light, as it would go a long way in exonerating his client. His attorney has taken pains to point out that Deedy is LEO [law enforcement officer], but has never said that Deedy identified himself as such. I don’t think that the grand jury would have indicted him on any level of murder charges had they felt he was legitimately acting in the role of LEO – they might have considered it negligent homicide, but not murder. I don’t believe that cops and other LEO get indicted on murder charges every time they kill someone in the line of duty.
2) As to whether or not Deedy was drunk himself; his own attorney won’t say. The att’y has said that Deedy was within his rights to refuse a blood alcohol test prior to arrest and in one interview for a local Hawaiian station, when asked if Deedy had been drinking, made the comment, “Well, he had been at a bar.” That is all he has said.
3) Federal law allows LEOs to carry concealed weapons on duty or off, but one of the stipulations is that the officer may not carry when under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
4) Deedy is charged with two offenses. The issue of whether Deedy was acting as LEO and/or whether or not he was drinking seems to be addressed by the second charge he is facing: Use of a Firearm in the Commission of a Felony, Hawaii Revised Statutes, HRS 134-21.
5) You [original commenter I am replying to] are mistaken in your belief about why Deedy was charged with second degree murder.[…] It turns out that in Hawaii, unlike most of the other states, 1st degree murder only applies in very limited cases, with strict definitions.
“Under Hawaii law, second-degree murder is defined as occurring simply ‘if the person intentionally or knowingly causes the death of another person,’ while first-degree murder involves specific kinds of victims.
“First-degree murder would pertain to someone who intentionally or knowingly causes the death of: more than one person in the same or separate incident; a law enforcement officer, judge or prosecutor involved in the prosecution; a witness in a criminal prosecution; a person by a hired killer, in which case the killer and the person who did the hiring would be charged; or a person while the defendant was imprisoned.”
Deedy is being charged with 2nd degree (HRS 707-701.5) because Elderts was not a judge, a LEO, a witness in a case, etc., and because Elderts was the only victim. It has nothing to do with Deedy’s intent or foreknowledge of Elderts. – from my own comment on “Follow up to a murder in Hawai’i.”
This past Monday, Deedy’s attorney filed a motion to have the charges dismissed.
Star Advertiser 17 May, 2012
Agent Claims Immunity in Shooting
The State Department special agent accused of fatally shooting a man at a McDonald’s restaurant in Waikiki in November claims he was performing his duties as a federal law enforcement officer and is therefore immune from prosecution under state law, according to records filed in the case this week.
Christopher Deedy, 28, is scheduled to stand trial in state court for murder in September.
However, his lawyer, Brook Hart, filed legal papers seeking to dismiss the case or to at least delay his trial. Hart filed the documents Monday detailing Deedy’s version the events that culminated in the Nov. 5 fatal shooting of Kollin Elderts, 23, and the reasons Deedy believes he should not be prosecuted.[…]
Hart says Deedy was in Honolulu as a federal law enforcement officer on an official State Dept. assignment with the power of arrest and the right to carry a firearm.[…]
Deedy has claimed in previously filed documents that he was defending himself and his friend[…]when he shot Elderts. He submitted a report from the doctor who treated him at the Queen’s Medical Center after his arrest. The report from Dr. Kyle Perry says Deedy a scrapes and a broken nose from an assault.[…]
[Judge] Ahn is scheduled to hear arguments in July on Deedy’s immunity claim, his request to delay the trial, and a second request for a dismissal contending the grand jury proceedings in the case were defective.
As a matter of course, the defense received a video of the proceedings, which shows a prosecutor and police detective describing events as they unfold on a McDonald’s surveillance video. The video was played to the grand jury on a television, but the video of the proceedings does not show the TV screen, leaving doubt as to whom and what the prosecutor and officer are talking about, Deedy claims.
Police said Deedy shot Elderts in the chest after an argument. When officers arrived at the restaurant Deedy and Elderts were both covered in blood. The officers said Deedy told them he had a gun and had shot Elderts. Deedy also said he had a pocketknife, which police recovered in the restaurant. Officers also noted that Deedy had red, glassy eyes and slurred speech.
It was Deedy who started the fight by kicking Elderts in the chest, said lawyer Michael Green, who is representing Elderts’ parents in their lawsuit against Deedy.
According to an autopsy, Elderts had abrasions from gunpowder on the right side of his face, a blood alcohol content of 0.127 and traces of the active ingredient in marijuana and cocaine in his system.
– from print version of Star Advertiser article, Thurs., 17 May, 2012
Deedy’s mug shots, taken shortly after his arrest, certainly show no sign of a broken nose. Nor does he appear to have a broken nose, or marks or bruises of any sort on his face, in the photos taken by reporters at his grand jury hearing a few days later. Witnesses say that after Deedy kicked Elderts to the ground, Elderts got to his feet and hit Deedy in retaliation. That might be the point at which Deedy was injured, although from photos, he clearly suffered no major injuries at all.
Elderts had abrasions on his face from gunpowder residue. That’s very close-range. Deedy must have tried to shoot him in the face. Maybe the first or second shot, both of which missed – the third, of course, entering Elderts’ chest.
The argument about the McD’s video is not that the jury couldn’t see the video or that the McD’s video doesn’t show what it is purported to show, but that in the courthouse video of the grand jury proceedings itself, whoever filmed the hearing was not positioned to catch both the witnesses testifying and the tv screen at the same time. If the grand jury comes up with a true bill – i.e., decides the evidence merits prosecution – which they did in this case, the accused and his attorney are entitled to a transcript of witness testimony.
Each side has to share evidence prior to trial. Since the McD’s tape is being used as key evidence, Deedy and his attorney will or already have received a copy of the original McDonald’s tape. The whole “can’t see the tv” thing is a moot point.
In fact, today the same newspaper, the Star Advertiser, mentions this:
City prosecutors are asking a state judge to keep sealed a request to dismiss a murder charge against a State Department special agent and its supporting exhibits, which include surveillance videotapes of the fatal shooting at a McDonald’s Waikiki restaurant last year.
The defense for special agent Christopher Deedy this week filed the dismissal motion and supporting exhibits that include McDonald’s videotapes at the Kuhio Avenue restaurant.[…]
I mentioned Peter Van Buren’s take on this case in my previous articles. His opinion is interesting as it comes from a current State Dept. employee. The following, however, is from the blog of a different and now-retired State Dept. employee, who held the same position that Deedy currently does.
Update: The Murder of Kollin K. Elderts in Honolulu: Thoughts and Analysis
Having devoted a career as a special agent at the US Department of State, I consider myself more than qualified to offer some thoughts on the murder of Kollin K. Elderts, 23, by US Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) special agent (S/A) Christopher W. Deedy, 27 in Honolulu on Saturday (November 5).
Although I strongly disagree with persons who have been charged with serious felonies to be tried in the court of public opinion, there are a number of issues in this case that concern me.
As a follow-up to my earlier posting on Deedy’s shooting death of Elderts, what makes this case so perplexing is the lack of news coverage on it since it occurred on November 5. Hence, my comments.
Unfortunately, my observations raise far more questions than they address.[…]
Was S/A On-Duty at the Time He Shot Elderts? No, considering that he was reportedly intoxicated, according to witnesses at the scene.
Was Elderts armed with a weapon? According to the Elderts family attorney, Michael Green, Elderts was not armed. Although police found a knife at the scene, it has not been connected to a specific owner. [Teri’s note: this has been clarified since. Deedy claimed ownership of the knife found at the scene.]
Was Deedy armed with a firearm? Yes. From all indications he was carrying his DS-issued service weapon, even though according to witnesses he was visibly intoxicated. A prudent agent who knew he would be drinking while off duty, who did NOT have full police powers, would have locked the weapon in his car or secured it in a hotel safe deposit box.
Why was a DS agent assigned to Honolulu to support the protection of dignitaries at APEC intoxicated at 0300 hours in the morning? Unfortunately, there is no reasonable explanation to this question, particularly in light of the fact that he was carrying his service weapon while intoxicated.[…]
Has Deedy been charged with a crime? Yes, reportedly he was arrested and charged with 2nd degree murder and the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. Yet, he was released on $250,000 bail with no apparent restriction to remain in Honolulu.
Although DS agents are issued Diplomatic passports, they are not accredited diplomats when assigned domestically.
It is not normal for those charged with murder to be released on bail, particularly when they have the resources to flee the jurisdiction. One can only assume that he was released on bail because he was a federal agent.
What were the details of the altercation between Deedy and Elderts? According to press reports, after leaving a local bar, Elderts ended up in the Waikiki McDonald’s where they were joking around with workers in the restaurant when Deedy and three others walked into the restaurant. From all indications, an altercation commenced when Deedy “karate-kicked” Elderts in the chest, knocking him down, resulting in Elderts hitting Deedy. The two then began struggling with each other when Deedy fired three shots, one of which hit Elderts in the chest.
Were either Deedy or Elderts intoxicated? This question is problematic. Although the medical examiner’s office reported that Elderts blood-alcohol level was 0.12%, it is unknown whether Honolulu police conducted a breathalyzer test on Deedy before he was released on bail. If it was not conducted, it should have been.[…]
Deedy has already been allowed to bypass his travel restrictions (he was allowed to return to Va., provided he stay within 100 miles of his home. His office at the State Dept. is within this radius.):
[…]Meanwhile, Deedy has been allowed to travel beyond his current 100-mile radius restriction. According to court documents, he has the court’s permission to attend a wedding July 27 in Cape Charles, Va. He was granted permission to visit his 84-year-old grandmother earlier this month in Naples, Fla.[…]
Hart also wants to delay the trial, scheduled for September, until at least March 2013.
Judge Ahn will rule on the motions to dismiss charges or to delay the trial in July. If she agrees to delay the trial, it will mean that the Elderts family will have waited almost a year and a half to get justice in this case. In the meantime, Deedy will be receiving his full salary as a State Dept. employee. And he has had the unheard-of benefits of being allowed to post bail and leave the jurisdiction after being charged with murder, and has been able to have the trial delayed for months already. The State Dept. refuses to discuss the case with the press.
It turns out the insurance company who carries Deedy’s renter’s insurance on the Virginia house he and his wife live in, Allstate, has to cover the cost of his legal fees in the civil case being brought against him by the Elderts family.
BY JIM DOOLEY – In a flurry of motions this week, the attorney for accused murderer Christopher Deedy said the State Department security officer is immune from state criminal charges and accused prosecutors of improperly recording evidence against Deedy given to the grand jury last year.
In a related court development today, a federal judge in Virginia ruled that Deedy’s legal expenses in a wrongful death lawsuit pending against him here are covered by a renter’s insurance policy issued to Deedy and his wife in Arlington, VA in late 2010 by Allstate Insurance Co. […]
Another legal dispute related to the killing is playing out in federal court, where the family of Elderts has filed a civil suit against Deedy.Deedy made a claim against his Virginia renter’s insurance policy for coverage of his legal expenses in the lawsuit.
In Virginia federal court, Allstate said it was not obligated to pay Deedy’s legal expenses.
Today, Virginia U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Trenga ruled for Deedy, holding that Allstate has “a duty to defend” him in the suit.
Local attorney Robert Richards, who represents Deedy in the civil case here, confirmed that Allstate is now liable for Deedy’s legal bills.
Richards said he doesn’t expect the trial in the civil case to begin until after completion of the criminal case.
Michael Green, who represents the Elderts family in the civil case, said the U.S. State Department and Justice Department have not made a decision on whether to defend Deedy in the civil case.