Drinking, race, use of force, play center stage in Christopher Deedy murder trial
Updated On: Aug 10 2013 05:22:43 PM HST
Since day one of special agent Christopher Deedy's murder trial, prosecutors have focused heavily on how much he had to drink, whether he was in any position to be carrying a gun, and why he didn't choose to simply back away.
Defense attorneys have argued the decorated agent was doing his job - to serve and protect - and was forced to take deadly action.
"The defendant was fueled by alcohol, primed by warnings given to him by the hostile locals, and ignited by the power of his Glock," began deputy prosecutor Janice Futa during opening statements in early July.
"This case, ladies and gentlemen, is about self defense and the defense of others," began defense attorney Brook Hart.
"I answered the phone and it was the officer," testified Maile Goodhue, a friend of Kollin Elderts, on the second day of trial, crying as she remembered news of Elderts' death.
In the early morning hours of Nov. 5, 2011, the lively buzz at a Waikiki McDonald's erupted into a deadly rumble as federal agent Christopher Deedy and friends, Kollin Elderts and Shane Medeiros, crossed paths and then clashed.
"When (Deedy) spoke I could smell (alcohol) on his breath," testified Honolulu Police Department evidence specialist Toy Stech.
Throughout the trial, what Deedy and Elderts consumed was in constant question.
"So all three substances were present simultaneously," defense attorney Karl Blanke asked medical examiner Kanthi De Alwis.
"Yes," said De Alwis.
Alcohol was considered a possible player in the McDonald's confrontation that soon followed:
"So it went from joking, to bothering, to annoying, and then bullying. Is that what you saw?" defense attorney Brook Hart asked McDonald's security guard Rosalinda Soriano.
"Correct sir,” said Soriano, remembering what appeared to be harassment of customer Michel Perrine.
"I noticed this guy (Perrine) still staring, so I said 'Do you have an F-ing problem? We told you we were just joking around with you, why still staring?'" said Elderts' friend Shane Medeiros.
Deedy testified he noticed the moment Elderts and Medeiros walked in, stepping in; when he said they kept harassing Perrine.
"It's your testimony that not at any point that night did you see Deedy show his badge?" Blanke asked Medeiros.
"Never," Medeiros said.
"I told him I'm a cop and he's going to get arrested. As I said that, I reached back, opened (my wallet) up and displayed (my law enforcement ID) to him," said Deedy.
"I heard (Deedy) say, 'Acting like this will get you shot. You don't feel like getting shot do you?'" Medeiros testified.
"At this point, I just felt like I couldn't say anything else. They were arguing and I figured if they're going to fight they're going to fight," said Alexander Byrd, a customer at McDonald's the morning of the fight.
And fight they did.
But who threw the first blow, who started what, has been hotly debated.
"I don't remember much of anything except getting hit in the head pretty hard," said Deedy's friend Adam Gutowski, who testified that Elderts and Medeiros both rushed him first.
"Both Kollin and Shane are beating him, he's getting beaten, kicked on the ground," said Gutowski's girlfriend Jessica West, who was with Gutowski and Deedy all night.
First, Gutowski appeared to be in the fray, then Deedy.
That exchange with Elderts ended in shots fired.
"(Elderts) was delivering the blows. He would come back and down back and down," testified Deedy, making a punching gesture.
"When you pulled the trigger you intended to kill Mr. Elderts, correct?" asked Futa.
"I intended to stop the threat," answered Deedy.
"After those shots were fired what did Elderts do?" Hart asked Deedy.
"Stop. Instead of delivering the (next) punch he just came down on top me," said Deedy.
Then there were those vivid moments in the aftermath: Deedy aiding a dying Elderts, covered in blood at the emergency room, and realizing the weight of what happened that night.
"I'd just fought for my life, and I believe I'd just killed a man, and I'd just been put under arrest for murder," he recalled.
Closing arguments are scheduled for next week, with attorneys getting their final chance to convince jurors their case tells the real story.
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