'Karen's Law' passes through key Senate committee - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

'Karen's Law' passes through key Senate committee

Malanie McLellan Malanie McLellan
Karen Ertell Karen Ertell

By Leland Kim - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - "Karen's Law," a bill named after an Ewa beach woman who was brutally raped and murdered, moved forward in the Senate Human Services Committee Tuesday. Committee members passed it with an amendment.

Karen Ertell's accused killer was a minor when it happened. The bill calls for automatically trying juveniles accused of first- and second-degree murder as adults.

Committee members passed this bill Tuesday afternoon with a minor amendment stipulating the effective date as 2010. This is the furthest this bill has ever gone, and Ertell's daughter says passing this would prevent other families from going what she went through.

The legacy of a beloved Ewa Beach woman lives in the halls of the Hawaii State Capitol. A house bill (HB819) is named after Karen Ertell, who was brutally murdered almost two years ago.

"There's no real feeling to describe it," said Malanie McLellan, Ertell's adopted daughter. "When something like this happens to you, you can't even imagine the pain you go through and it never really dies. You just learn how to put it away and deal with it at the right time."

Ertell's accused killer was a minor when it happened. Her family faced multiple waiver hearings that lasted more than a year. "Karen's Law" calls for automatically trying juveniles accused of first- and second-degree murder as adults.

"The waiver hearing we had to go through does not have to be a reality for other people," said McLellan. "It doesn't have to prolong the grieving process. For other people and this would eliminate that."

McLellan also says the multiple waiver hearings she and her family went though are a needless waste of taxpayers' money. If the law was in effect, it would be one hearing versus more than half a dozen.

Ertell's family says she would be proud.

"If the tables had been turned, Karen would be doing the same thing for me and the same thing for other families," said McLellan. "Karen was all about helping others and this bill really continues giving when she can't. I think she'd be really happy with the progress."

"Karen's Law" now goes to the Senate Judiciary and Government Operations Committee. If it passes there, it then goes to the full Senate for a vote, and then to the governor's office for her signature.

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