Jurors will consider manslaughter against agent
HONOLULU (AP) — A judge ruled Friday that jurors can consider convicting a federal agent of a lesser manslaughter charge in his retrial for a Hawaii fast-food restaurant shooting, giving the panel another option to convict him after different jurors deadlocked in his first murder trial.
The jury is scheduled to begin deliberating after closing arguments Tuesday in the retrial of State Department Special Agent Christopher Deedy. A mistrial was declared last year after jurors who were not allowed to consider manslaughter couldn’t agree on a verdict.
Judge Karen Ahn rejected the defense’s motion to also keep the current jury from considering manslaughter. Ahn had ruled at the previous trial that there wasn’t evidence to support manslaughter and there were no requests by attorneys on either side to include it.
Defense attorney Thomas Otake tried to argue that Ahn’s previous ruling was tantamount to acquitting Deedy of manslaughter, and that Deedy’s actions weren’t reckless.
“Double jeopardy puts an end to reckless manslaughter the second time around,” Otake said.
Ahn said the state Supreme Court has made the law clearer on the issue and new evidence emerged during the retrial, including a bystander testifying that he ran away because bullets were flying that didn’t hit Kollin Elderts, who was killed.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys declined to comment after Ahn’s ruling.
Deedy, 30, of Arlington, Virginia, took the stand this week, where he continued to maintain he acted in self-defense and was trying to protecting others from an aggressive Elderts in a Waikiki McDonald’s in 2011. Deedy was in town to help provide security for an international economic summit but was off-duty at the restaurant when he shot Elderts, 23.
Much of his testimony was the same as last year’s, but this time he was clearer about his intention to kill Elderts. He said that when he pulled the trigger three times he intended “to stop the threat. To kill the assailant.”
Elderts’ parents criticized the prosecution last year for not asking for the lesser manslaughter charge.
Prosecutors didn’t request it in the retrial, either. They’ve maintained that the evidence shows the killing was intentional, which supports a murder charge.
Last year’s jury foreman said jurors deadlocked with eight in favor of acquittal and four for conviction. Legal observers blamed the hung jury on the lack of a manslaughter option.
Follow Jennifer Sinco Kelleher at http://www.twitter.com/JenHapa .