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Columns : The Federal Voice

Convicted in the Media

A federal agent is on trial for murder in Hawaii, and it may not be a fair trial.

August 22, 2012  |  by Jon Adler

Special Agent Chris Deedy (second from left) appears in court on murder charges. Screenshot via KITV.
Special Agent Chris Deedy (second from left) appears in court on murder charges. Screenshot via KITV.

On Nov. 5, Diplomatic Security Services Special Agent Chris Deedy, 28, was charged with second-degree murder in Hawaii. Initial news accounts of the incident quoted the civil attorney representing the family of the deceased and claimed that a drunken rogue agent followed the unarmed "victim," Kollin Elderts, 23, out of a Waikiki nightclub after exchanging words and summarily shot him in front of a McDonald's. Headlines were quick to characterize Deedy as a killer and a murderer.

To further stack the jury pool deck against Deedy, the prosecutor's spokesman said surveillance video coverage of the incident was conclusive by stating, "This is a killing caught on camera."

Deedy was part of a detail that was in Hawaii on assignment for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. On the night of the incident he was on personal time, hanging out with a college friend and the friend's girlfriend.

According to his attorney, Deedy consumed a small amount of alcohol earlier in the evening, but was not intoxicated when the incident occurred. The defense also says that contrary to initial headlines and attorney statements, Deedy did not exchange words with Elderts in the night club and Deedy did not follow Elderts out of the club and then shoot him in front of McDonald’s.

Witness statements and surveillance footage from the security cameras in the McDonald's reportedly reveal that Deedy was actually seated inside the restaurant with his friends when Elderts came through the door with another man. Witness accounts say Elderts and his counterpart were verbally abusive and belligerent toward customers. Video and witness accounts also indicate that Elderts and the other man were allegedly poised to physically strike a male customer right before Deedy confronted them.

The defense says Deedy approached Elderts and displayed his badge and credentials. Witness accounts add that Deedy asked Elderts to calm down and cease what was characterized as aggressive behavior. The defense says that video and witness accounts will show that Elderts responded to Deedy's request by attacking the agent and knocking him to the ground. Elderts, who had a 30-pound weight advantage over Deedy, allegedly also struck Deedy in the face several times.

Contrary to the initial news account, Deedy did not fire his weapon once into Elderts' chest. Instead, he fired three rounds from his weapon.

So how did Deedy miss twice? The video reportedly shows that Deedy drew his weapon, but did not immediately discharge it. Elderts then allegedly lunged at Deedy and grabbed the barrel of the agent's weapon. Two shots were fired during the struggle, but neither party was struck.

Listen to 911 calls from the shooting scene

Deedy was knocked to the ground, the video shows. Then Elderts allegedly lunged at the dazed agent, who then fired his weapon and struck Elderts in the chest. The medical examiner's report showed that Elderts had a high level of alcohol in his system, as well as drugs.

Deedy rendered first aid to the mortally wounded Elderts. That is not disputed by either side. Elderts' counterpart, who was allegedly beating on Deedy's friend, fled the scene before the police arrived. Deedy continued to render CPR after the police arrived, then he was subsequently taken to the hospital to treat his injuries.

At the hospital Deedy was arrested and now awaits trial. Given the harmful impact the initial headlines and attorney statements could have on a prospective jury pool, Deedy's attorney has asked that the prosecutor release the McDonald's video so it could be used for Deedy's defense. The prosecutor's office argues that release of the video will taint the jury pool, and it should only be shown in court once the trial begins.

The net effect is that Deedy's attorney now has to overcome accusatory news media reports and somehow hope he can get an impartial jury. He will have to overcome the prejudicial misperception that a rogue law enforcement officer shot an innocent unarmed man. Incidentally, Elderts had two prior arrests: disorderly conduct and driving under the influence.

Setting aside the hype, the jury will have to determine if Deedy was justified in discharging his firearm. Use-of-force expert witnesses will likely be called to testify and provide context for the actions taken by the accused. The prosecution will likely attempt to minimize the level of threat posed by Elderts by repeatedly describing him as "unarmed." Hopefully, the facts of the case will show that the level of force was justifiable and that Elderts did pose a lethal threat to Deedy.

Related:

Supporters Rally for ATF Agent Facing Murder Charge in Virgin Islands

Case Dismissed Against ATF Agent Tried for Murder In Virgin Islands

Tags: Special Agents, Media Misconduct, Murder Prosecutions, Off-Duty Incidents


Comments (18)

Displaying 1 - 18 of 18

Capt David LACO Retired @ 8/23/2012 5:47 PM

That's novel. The media convicting someone? No, they do it daily. Their version and the actual version hardly seem to mesh.

DEADMAN @ 8/23/2012 6:34 PM

The prosecutor by relying on the evidence available,should rule that the shooting was justified and decline to prosecute,but is obviously a political tool that is probably trying to make a name for himself,he should save thevcourt and the city time and money and do his job.

Billy @ 8/24/2012 12:51 AM

Let's see the perp had 30 pounds on Agent Deedy, plus he was drunk/stoned out of his mind, had landed some staggering blows, and was trying to take the agent's gun and if he had taken it, stats show Deedy had an 80% chance of being shot with it. Sounds like a righteous shoot to me!

Doug M. @ 8/24/2012 8:31 AM

As a prosecutor, I am offended by the prosecutor's actions here. This is almost certainly a frivolous prosecution and should result in Bar discipline.

Thomas Nelson @ 8/24/2012 11:38 AM

Agreed this was a good shoot the prosecutor the judge should both be charged with misconduct and if the Agent had not shot the perp and the Agent was the one killed or wounded fire him for not being in control of his weapon

Marshal @ 8/29/2012 7:24 AM

I think that the media and the prosecutor spokesman should be charged with false reporting and sued for slander. When are we going to take a stand on the bullsh*t that we allow the media to do to people when they know it is wrong or they just don't care and they don't research their information and they just want to be the first to report. Freedom of the press doesn't give them the right to slander someone or give faulty reports.

ib_da_one @ 10/6/2012 4:29 AM

Sounds like a clean shoot to me but you have to understand this is Hawaii. Very limited gene pool amoungst potential jurors. I mean you should have seen the memorial they laid out in front o Mcdonald's for the perp. Absolutely disgusting!

Winston @ 4/13/2013 8:53 PM

"Very limited gene pool amoungst potential jurors"... what the heck does this mean??? And what's so disgusting about a memorial for someone who just died??? Where are you from? Stupidville!

Jerk!

damainlander @ 4/17/2013 7:49 PM

Deedy will not get fair trial in Hawaii unless half the jury pool is white. Racism is very alive here. Seems the victim picked a fight with the wrong guy.

Al @ 6/17/2013 7:40 PM

It's amusing that people who do not have a clue on what happened have a lot of opinions on what happened that night. Some facts that everyone seems to agree on is that there was a fight, one of the individuals was shot and killed by a Federal Agent who was armed and had been drinking, how much has not been reported, and the person killed had evadently been drinking a lot. I do not know any more than what was reported in the media and if the others that have commented have inside information, they should show up as witnesses at the trial. I just feel sorry for the people the secret service are supposed to protect have to rely on agents that carry guns while drinking and can't defend themselves without shooting someone.

By the way, I have lived here for 78 years and am white.

abby @ 7/10/2013 1:51 AM

What the hell are you people on? Limited gene pool? Really? Half the jurors have to be white for thes piece of crap to get a .fair trial? Because of racism in hawaii? Are you even able to comprehend how rediculoilus you sound?! The thing that is different in hawaii is that there the corruption is balanced by truth here. Anywhere else in the country, it is ok for cops to murder whom ever they want without a 2nd thought.
This dumb ass picked the wrong state to show off in..
If this kid was your nephiew i bet you would all have a different attitude.
Unfortunateley you are all really acuratley representing your people, the police. By writing articles and comments like these, you are showing the world that the police need drastic reform. Sick sick sick.

Jase @ 7/11/2013 4:17 AM

Wow. Way to throw the Honolulu Police Department (the folk who felt an arrest was justified) under the bus. Is this a POLICE magazine or a blog that sides with attorneys turned race-baiters who would cast dispersions on the land in which they chose to live with the racism magnifying glass - all in order to win a case. Massie trial II.

Terry @ 7/13/2013 1:12 PM

Well the video is released and it seems the agent was not intervening in an altercation the agent began an altercation because he didn't like a word that the victim said.

Wailuku @ 8/1/2013 4:04 AM

Kollin Elderts was just another sad, sorry, ignorant local boy with zero real-world experience whose death was brought upon himself by the hatred that infested every inch of his body and soul. According to police reports from his disorderly conduct arrest on May 10, 2008 and his behavior inside of McDonald's on Nov. 5, 2011, the only thing Kollin Elderts hated more than law enforcement officers and white people was himself. That is not a very good combination for living a long, healthy, and prosperous life that contributes to society rather than being a blight on society. As a resident of Hawaii, I am also embarrassed that Christopher Deedy was even prosecuted to begin with. Beer or no beer, everything Deedy did in this situation was justified not only by the law, but by common sense as well. From calmly approaching a hostile situation with his hands in his pockets, to identifying himself as a law enforcement officer, to continuously creating space between himself and the deceased, to firing his weapon in what amounts to nothing more than a case of suicide-by-cop. Christopher Deedy should have been thanked, not prosecuted. The only reason this did not happen is because some people in Hawaii believe it is their right, if not an obligation, to harass and confront people based on their skin color and appearance. It is hatred of the highest order and manifests itself in an unfortunate amount of people in Hawaii as a disease of the body and soul, killing from the inside out. It is what killed Kollin Elderts. And all those who pass on this hate from generation to generation are responsible.

Terry @ 8/9/2013 3:01 AM

wailuku wrote:As a resident of Hawaii, I am also embarrassed that Christopher Deedy was even prosecuted to begin with. Beer or no beer, everything Deedy did in this situation was justified not only by the law,

And what Laws would that be? what laws was Elderts breaking before and after Deedy came over? the story line here leaves out alot.

Deedy did not have but one un-biased witness to testify for his defense, the security who in effect through her testimony helped the prosecution.

So Deedy had to go on the stand, and gave her all the elements to the case.

Hawaii does not have stand your ground, you may use your gun in your home or place of work to defend against death, sodomy, kidnapping and if you feel like your life or those around you are in danger.

Outside of this, to meet the self defense elements, you cannot agrivate or assault someone (pick a fight) and then shot that person and claim self defense.

Deedy thinks he can kill with impunity and walk away because of his status as an agent? Not by our laws. his excuses and defense is very weak.

Mr @ 6/22/2014 11:07 PM

Terry,

Unless you were on the scene you DO NOT HAVE FIRST HAND KNOWLEDGE on what occurred. And please Terry, enlighten us what law school you attended? Have you passes the State Bar?

The last I read OUR LAWS (that you refer to) are regulated by the CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, not the State of Hawaii.

If you prefer that Hawaii make and Rule by their own laws they should cede from the Union.

So Terry, Go ahead, start collecting signatures and be prepared to stop collecting U.S. Gov't funded programs.

Capt. Crunch @ 7/12/2014 12:52 PM

Looks like DA Futa, is taking it personal about Agent Deedy, how can she go in Deedy's brain and say he was fueled by power, WTF is she talkind about.

Capt. Crunch @ 7/12/2014 12:53 PM

Looks like DA Futa, is taking it personal about Agent Deedy, how can she go in Deedy's brain and say he was fueled by power, what is she talking about.

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