Prosecutors aiming high in Christopher Deedy murder trial

By Lara Yamada
Published On: Aug 14 2013 06:56:33 PM HST
Updated On: Aug 14 2013 09:04:10 PM HST

Legal experts say they expect the jury to have a lot more to think about in the trial.

HONOLULU -

After 20 days of testimony, Thursday brings closing arguments in the murder trial of Christopher Deedy.

Then, the decision is in the hands of the jury.

Attorneys had a chance to ask Circuit Court Judge Karen Ahn to let jurors consider lesser charges in special agent Christopher Deedy's trial, but attorneys chose not to.

"To me, it was astounding and very unusual," said University of Hawaii professor Kenneth Lawson.

"I was as shocked as the rest of the legal community. It's almost always given. This will be a rare exception," said Honolulu attorney Victor Bakke.

"Obviously, if you're drinking and kill someone, that's reckless conduct. So, I'm surprised they didn't even ask for it, because at that point it gives the jury a choice," said Lawson.

Lawson and Bakke agree it's not only a confusing, but a dangerous move by prosecutors.

"I think they were off base from the beginning. They should have charged him with manslaughter. I think they overreached," said Bakke.

"These are tough cases, especially when you have someone in the position of authority," added Lawson.

From day one, Deedy has maintained he shot Kollin Elderts in self-defense at a Waikiki McDonald's.

Both Lawson and Bakke said it was essential to put Deedy on the stand, with the special agent telling his story, through his eyes.

Lawson said jurors are often reluctant to second guess the person who did the shooting.

They will now make their decision, with Deedy's words still fresh on their minds.

"Guess what they're going to remember when they walk into that jury room? They’re going to remember the last thing they heard, not the first thing they heard," said Bakke.

"Most of these trials come down to who tells the best story," said Lawson.

Bakke said it was also a big deal that the very last person to testify was a Honolulu police sergeant who told jurors, that in 2008, Elderts was convicted of disorderly conduct.

The defense could not go into details, but he said it still feeds the argument that Elderts might have had problem with authority.

In a hearing on Wednesday, Circuit Court judge Karen Ahn she did not believe there was evidence to support a manslaughter charge, nor did she suggest any other charges, but she won't announce the final list of jury instructions until Thursday morning.

If the jury cannot decide whether to convict or acquit Deedy it could result in a hung jury, which opens the door for a new trial.
 

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