Christopher Deedy, a federal agent, could face a third trial in the shooting death of Kollin Elderts after a ruling this week by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Whether he actually will, however, will be up to Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm.
The 9th Circuit ruled that Deedy could face trial on assault charges related to Elderts’ death.
On Thursday, Alm declined to talk about what he might do.
His spokesman issued a statement saying the office “is carefully considering its next steps in this case, so we’re going to decline the interview request at this time.”
Deedy killed Elderts in a Waikiki McDonald’s in 2011 after a night of bar-hopping with friends, and has claimed that his actions that resulted in the Kailua man’s death were in self defense.
Deedy was in Honolulu as part of a U.S. State Department diplomatic security detail for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.
His shooting of Elderts sparked protests in the community that highlighted the deep seated racial and cultural undertones involved. Deedy is a white federal agent from the U.S. mainland while Elderts was a part-Hawaiian local.
A jury failed to convict Deedy of second-degree murder in 2013 after deliberations ended in a deadlock. Deedy was acquitted of murder in a second trial in 2014, but again the jury could not come to a decision on whether he was guilty of a lesser charge of manslaughter.
A federal judge ruled Deedy could not be charged with manslaughter in a third trial due to constitutional protections against double jeopardy that prevent individuals from being charged twice for the same crime.
The Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, then headed by Keith Kaneshiro, appealed that ruling to the 9th Circuit, which found that while Deedy cannot face another charge of manslaughter he could be charged with assault. Prosecutors urged the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case, but it refused.
The 9th Circuit’s latest decision hinged on a question of whether prosecutors earlier “abandoned” the assault charges against Deedy while pursuing the murder and manslaughter charges. The court ruled that they did not.
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