Waikiki shooting victim's parents blast prosecutor - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Waikiki shooting victim's parents blast prosecutor

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Jenell Elderts Jenell Elderts
Kendall Elderts Kendall Elderts
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

The parents of the man shot and killed by a federal agent at a Waikiki McDonalds almost two years ago said Friday they want a new prosecutor and a new strategy at the upcoming retrial of Christopher Deedy.

"After the prosecutor refused to ask for the possible verdict of manslaughter, our entire family felt abandoned by the prosecutor's office," said Jenell Elderts, as she her husband Kendall spoke at a news conference in the offices of their lawyer, Michael Green. 

In August, a jury was unable to reach a verdict against Deedy, 29, a State Department special agent who was charged with murder in the shooting of Kollin Elderts, 23.  His retrial is now set for June. 

They were highly critical of City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro and his deputy Janice Futa, who tried the case against Deedy State Department special agent Christopher Deedy. 

"I think we need a different prosecutor, I think we need the manslaughter charges to be available.  I just think we need a more aggressive approach to convicting this guy," Jenell Elderts said. 

She claimed for months before the trial, city prosecutors told the family they planned to ask for several charges against Deedy to guarantee he got some prison time. But Elderts said the family found out from the media after closing arguments that murder and not manslaughter would be the only charge over which jurors would deliberate. 

"They told us all the way up to closing statements that they were going to go for manslaughter," Jenell Elderts said. 

In response, Kaneshiro released a statement that said, "The statements made by the Elderts family are not true. No promises were ever made regarding charges." 

"We prosecute cases according to the evidence and the law and are not influenced by civil cases," Kaneshiro said. 

During the trial, Judge Karen Ahn said there was no evidence to sustain a manslaughter charge, theoretically because Deedy said he intended to kill Elderts, and Deedy claimed the shooting was justified because he felt he was protecting himself and others from Elderts.  

But Green said prosecutors still could have asked for manslaughter. 

"Kaneshiro's been around a long time. Not to ask for it (manslaughter), just flies in the face of reason," Green said. "And everybody knows it and everybody has said it.  And he says he's going to do it all over again? And he expects a different result?  Please.  No one is that stupid." 

"Reckless endangering, the guy would be sitting at Halawa right now.  Manslaughter, I'm sure he'd be sitting at Halawa," Green said. 

Elderts was asked if she believes prosecutors didn't go all out because Deedy is a federal law enforcement officer. 

"It's entered my mind," Elderts said. "There's no proof.  But that only makes sense. Why else would they pull the manslaughter at the end?" 

Green said, "I'm not talking about collusion or conspiracy.  I'm talking about we'll prosecute this guy for murder, but you know what, if we can't convict him of murder, we're not going to do anything more aggressively to try and get him." 

The family has already sued Deedy in civil court for their son's death and plans to sue Deedy's employer, the federal government. 

In civil law, lawyers must prove a "preponderance of evidence" and unlike criminal cases not "beyond a reasonable doubt" to win.  That means even if Deedy never gets convicted of a crime, he could still be on the hook for financial damages. 

The Elderts live in Pahoa on Hawaii Island.  Kendall Elderts quit his construction job to attend every day of Deedy's murder trial because he said his boss would not give him the time off. 

Jenell Elderts works for an auto dealership in the Hilo area.