The U.S. District Court has ruled against a third trial for federal agent Christopher Deedy.
On Friday, Judge Derrick Watson issued an order that the state may not proceed with Deedy’s October 2018 retrial on reckless manslaughter or any included offenses without violating constitutional prohibitions.
“After careful review of the record, arguments of counsel, and consideration of the relevant authorities, including the Supreme Court’s decision in Evans v. Michigan, 568 U.S. 313 (2013), the circuit court’s determination of the absence of evidence of recklessness, and resulting decision not to instruct or submit the reckless manslaughter claim to the jury during the first trial, is an ‘acquittal’ for purposes of double jeopardy.”
Deedy is accused of killing Kollin Elderts at a Waikiki McDonalds in 2011. He was assigned to provide security during the APEC conference in Waikiki.
His first trial ended in a mistrial. The second time around, he was found not guilty of murder but jurors could not agree on the lesser charge of manslaughter.
During both trials, Deedy admitted to shooting Elderts, but in self-defense.
In April 2018, Deedy’s attorney filed a motion, asking the federal court to prevent the state from taking him to trial again, claiming double jeopardy.
Thomas Otake says Deedy is still employed as a federal agent and lives in Virginia, but for the last seven years, he has been on desk duty and confined to the restrictions of his bail, like drinking alcohol and traveling.
“Although we’re very relieved by all of this, it’s not a day of celebration. We recognize that both the Elderts and Deedy families, their lives have been changed forever because of this case, and we just hope that everybody can move forward and move on from it,” said Otake.
Members of the Coalition for Justice for Kollin Elderts gathered at Iolani Palace to express their frustration.
“We condemn the incompetence of Hawaii’s prosecutor’s office who ignored the pleas of the Elderts’ legal council to pursue charges of manslaughter from the very beginning,” said organizer Kalama Niheu. “Charges of reckless manslaughter for wildly shooting his gun in a crowded restaurant, or for the possibility of extreme emotional distress after being revealed as incompetent in a fair fight were never explored. In fact, they were vehemently denied.”
The Department of the Prosecuting Attorney says it will take the case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The office issued the following statement Friday:
“This case involves the unjustified killing of Kollin Elderts, a young Hawaii man.
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.”
The news brought no comfort to the coalition.
“Like the family has said from the very beginning, that (prosecutors) were negligent in the duty of properly and adequately and fully effectively presenting this case,” Niheu said. “They ignored all that, consistently ignored it, in fact shut down any communications and were hostile to the family themselves in spite of their attempts to work with the prosecutor’s office.
“This is not the statements of the family. I’m making the statement on behalf of the Coalition for Justice for Kollin Elderts that as we have observed throughout the years, this appeal would not even be necessary if they had taken care of this from the very beginning like they should have,” she continued.