BY JIM DOOLEY – City prosecutors have filed legal papers opposing transfer of the Christopher Deedy murder case to federal court, arguing that Deedy made the request far too late and is “forum shopping” for a more favorable trial venue.
Deedy, a special agent with the U.S. State Department, is accused of murdering Kailua man Kollin Elderts in November during an early morning altercation in a Waikiki fast food restaurant.
Deedy’s defense lawyer, Brook Hart, filed a motion late last month to transfer the case out of state jurisdiction, arguing that Deedy, 28, was acting in self defense and in an official capacity when he fatally shot Elderts, 23.
Honolulu Deputy Prosecutor Janice Futa opposed that transfer request in papers filed before U.S. District Judge Leslie Kobayashi.
Futa said federal law requires that such a “removal” motion must be made no later than 30 days after the defendant’s arraignment.
Deedy was arraigned November 21 after an Oahu grand jury indicted him on charges of second-degree murder and use of firearm in the commission of a felony.
Federal courts allow for waiver of that deadline if “good cause” can be shown for the delay, but Futa said that Hart has failed to make such a showing.
“In the thirty days following Defendant’s arraignment, Defendant had the opportunity to
remove his case to federal court but deliberately chose not to do so,” Futa said.
“Defendant has no explanation as to why he could not have filed his notice of removal in a timely manner, nor has Defendant provided any good cause why he should be allowed to do so now,” the prosecutor argued.
She also asserted that Hart is “forum shopping” the case by asking that it be transferred “into a forum which Defendant apparently perceives to be friendlier.”
And the prosecutor alleged that Hart used the transfer motion as a vehicle to reveal his description of a videotape of the killing which state Judge Karen Ahn had earlier ordered withheld from the public.
Hart’s federal court filing “effectively circumvented” Ahn’s secrecy ruling because it included an even more detailed defense description of what the video depicts than the earlier version which the judge sealed, Futa said.
Futa asked for a denial of the transfer request.
“The State’s interests in having this case adjudicated in State Court are extremely compelling,” Futa argued.
“Defendant is charged with violations of Hawaii State criminal law, for an act that occurred within the State of Hawaii, which resulted in the death of a citizen of HawaiI,” the prosecutor said.