The retrial for a special agent accused of murder in a 2011 fast food restaurant shooting in Hawaii is underway, an emotionally charged case that’s gripping the island state.
Christopher Deedy, a special agent for the State Department, is accused of second degree murder in the Nov. 5, 2011 death of Kollin Elderts, 23. Deedy has pleaded not guilty.
A previous trial ended with a deadlocked jury.
In opening statements made Thursday, the prosecution painted a portrait of Deedy as a bar-hopping drunk the night he shot Elderts.
“The defendant was fueled by alcohol, primed by warnings given by his friends about hostile locals and ignited by the power of his Glock,” prosecutor Janice Futa told the court, referring to his Glock pistol.
But the defense alleges it was the victim and his friend who were the aggressors, harassing other customers before scuffling with Deedy. Deedy fired his gun in self-defense, attorney Thomas Otake said.
“It’s a potentially violent situation developing. Well, what are law enforcement officers trying to do? Stop it before it becomes violent,” Otake said.
Deedy maintains he went to the McDonald’s with some friends after a night out – testifying in November 2011 that he intervened when he saw Elderts harassing other customers.
Deedy identified himself as a cop, he said, but the warnings didn’t work.
“I didn’t see him when he actually came at me,” Deedy previously testified. “But he hit me hard and fast and the best way I can describe it was like a spear tackle. I stood up. I put both arms in front of me, palms forward and I said ‘stop, I’ll shoot.’”
Deedy says Elderts tackled him to the ground.
“He was delivering blows, back and down, back and down,’ Deedy said. “I had two concerns, I think, at the time – not let those blows direct my skull into the ground. And two, trying to take the shot that would stop the threat.”
Elderts slumped and began bleeding.
Deedy says he tried to help keep Elderts alive, but it was too late.
ABC News Chief Legal Affairs Anchor Dan Abrams said prosecutors have two distinct advantages in this trial.
“At the first trial, the defense was allowed to show video of Special Agent Deedy performing CPR on the victim after the shooting, showing his humanity. The jury won’t see that video this time. And the judge is excluding toxicology analysis that the victim had taken cocaine as not reliable enough,” Abrams said.