Murder Victim's Daughter Speaks Out

Karen Ertell and Malanie McLellan
Karen Ertell and Malanie McLellan
Rep. Tommy Waters
Rep. Tommy Waters
Sen. Brian Taniguchi
Sen. Brian Taniguchi

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- The daughter of an Ewa Beach woman who was brutally raped and murdered last year speaks out Saturday on Hawaii's legal system.

"I just feel like it delays the grieving process for me because I'm so concerned about how this boy is going to be tried," said Malanie McLellan, Ertell's daughter.

Friday we spoke with lawmakers who say Hawaii's judicial system is working just fine, that the people of Hawaii are well protected.

But Saturday, victims' families speak out, saying Hawaii laws victimize them a second time.

A minor is the suspect in Karen Ertell's rape and murder last May. Her daughter says the system isn't working for her. More than nine months after her mother's murder, she still doesn't know if the suspect will be tried as a juvenile or an adult.

Karen Ertell was Malanie McLellan's mother and best friend.

"Karen was the most amazing woman," said McLellan, who now lives in Eugene, Oregon. "She always just gave, gave, and gave to people."

The woman who gave, lost her life last year when she was raped and murdered in Ewa Beach.

"I had a baby three weeks after my mother was murdered," said McLellan. "I found her body when I was nine months pregnant."

Almost a year later, Ertell's family has no closure.

"We just sit and wait every day, and the waiver hearing's been delayed like three times already," said McLellan. "So they keep giving us a new date and I almost feel like a new date's going to come around, and who knows, maybe they'll delay it again."

A series of senate and house bills called "Karen's Law" died earlier in the week when committee chairs refused to hear them.

"Well, we do have laws on the books that takes care of adults and tries to deal with minors as minors," said Sen. Briana Taniguchi (D-Manoa, Mo'ili'ili, McCully, Makiki). "So I think currently as far as I can tell, the system is working."

In the past ten years, there were nine waivers to try juvenile murder suspects as adult. All nine were granted.

"When we have four thousand bills on my desk, is this necessary?" asked Rep. Tommy Waters (D-Judiciary Committee Chair). "Let's wait and see."

But victims' families say it is necessary, because the uncertainty of the drawn out waiver process makes them feel like victims a second time.

"Okay, it's working for him, but has he ever stopped -- He's never called me and asked me what it's like to be waiting for eight months after you find your mother raped and murdered," said McLellan.

And Ertell's boyfriend said your perspective changes if you're victimized by a minor.

"I think if this guy possibly gets out at the age of 19, and lived in Representative Waters' neighborhood and took an interest in his wife or daughter, how would he feel?" asked Kevin Callahan.

Victims' families say it makes them feel like second class citizens.

"That assertion is ridiculous to say that we don't care about women's rights and people in general, and victims; of course we do," said Rep. Waters. "But the question is whether or not this bill is necessary and it's clear that every single minor who was um up for a waiver hearing was waived."

Ertell's family said they will continue fighting for her, because that's exactly what she would have done.

"Karen was a giver; that was the paramount thing in her life to give to others," said McLellan. "And this is a way for her to still give so that she didn't die in vain."

The next waiver hearing is scheduled for April 8, two months shy of the one year anniversary of Ertell's murder.