HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The foreman of the Christopher Deedy murder trial jury told Hawaii News Now Tuesday that the panel was deadlocked from its first day of deliberations, with a couple of them changing their minds during the process.
When the Deedy jury took its initial vote on the first day of deliberations, jury foreman Justin Odagiri said they were evenly divided, with six jurors saying not guilty and another six saying he was guilty.
But Odagiri said over five and a half days, two jurors changed their minds, resulting in a deadlock with eight people saying "not guilty" and four jurors voting to convict Deedy of murder.
"In the end, everyone (on the jury) was set in their thing. It wasn't changing after. Because some people went to not guilty earlier, and the numbers stayed the same after that."
Odagiri works as a painter and sandblaster at the Pearl Harbor shipyard. The 29-year-old gun owner and hunting enthusiast declined to say whether he felt Deedy was guilty and turned down an on-camera interview but did speak to Hawaii News Now by phone.
Odagiri said the biggest weakness of the prosecutors' case was the surveillance video of the November 2011 shooting in the Kuhio Avenue McDonalds, which was played repeatedly at the trial.
"The hardest part was there was no audio in the video. So everything that we had to go by was what people said," Odagiri said.
Odagiri said witnesses offered wildly conflicting testimony, not all of it reliable.
"We're like, 'Oh, they had a perfect, bird's eye view.' And they come in and they're ripped, and they're like 'I don't remember anything I was totally lit,'" Odagiri said. "They could believe what they're saying. It's not like I'm saying they're lying. I'm just saying that a lot, half of them were drunk, they're across the room."
Another difficulty: the video was not fluid, because it was made up of still frames one and a half seconds apart. So the video was jerky and had gaps.
"There's a lot that can go on between then that we didn't see, you know, and the cameras are horrible and the angles," Odagiri said. "That's why it's hard. So it's like your brain is going to think what it wants to when it watches that. So people who think one way. They're going to fill in parts to justify what they think is happening."
He said it would not have necessarily been easier to convict Deedy of the lesser manslaughter charge.
"We were supposed to judge him by those laws, not on what his punishment will be, you know? So, I don't know how much it would have changed, honestly. Because the laws we would have to go by would have been the same instructions," Odagiri said.
Odagiri said as a military brat, he grew up hunting in Montana with a gun.
The Pearl City resident said Hawaii laws on self defense are very vague and the consequences obviously deadly if you use a gun to protect yourself.
"If it happens, there's no taking it back," he said.
He said the jurors were not biased because of their different races, since he said the not-guilty and guilty opinions split across racial lines.
"All of us felt like we let people down because we couldn't come to a decision. Especially both sides. They have to go through this again, you know what I mean? So we tried really hard to come to a verdict, but we just felt that it wasn't happening," Odagiri said.
"And it got pretty heated once in a while, some people would be standing up and it was pretty intense while we were in there. And doing that for like seven hours a day, it's just draining. It was just, you come home and you're just tired. You just want to relax. It's just brutal," Odagiri added.