Ewa Beach woman's accused juvenile killer to be tried as an adult - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Ewa Beach woman's accused juvenile killer to be tried as an adult

Jeffrey Hawk Jeffrey Hawk

By Leland Kim - bio | email

DOWNTOWN HONOLULU (KHNL) - An Ewa Beach juvenile accused of killing his 51-year-old neighbor will be tried as an adult. The decision came down Tuesday morning in family court, almost a year and a half after Karen Ertell was murdered in her home.

This is a major step forward for the prosecution and the victim's family, but for Ertell's daughter, the news is bittersweet.

16-year-old Vernon Bartley leaves family court for the last time as a juvenile suspect. The Ewa Beach teenager will now be tried as an adult for the murder of his neighbor, 51-year-old Karen Ertell.

"I would like everybody to remember that Vernon is a child, he is sixteen years old and he's being tried as an adult," said Jeffrey Hawk, Bartley's defense attorney. "This is a very difficult time for him and his family."

It's also been an ordeal for Ertell's family. Bartley's waiver hearing was delayed eight separate times in a 15-month period before this decision.

"I'm relieved but I'm not because it's taken 16 months just to determine this," said Malanie McLellan, Ertell's adopted daughter, via a telephone interview.

Bartley could face as many as 12 separate counts, including first degree murder. His defense attorney plans to bring up Bartley's rough upbringing during the trial.

"Every child is a product of his environment and his family," said Hawk. "And hopefully we can make it an issue in this case, that no child does these sorts of things with good cause and with good reason."

"And that's a bunch of bull because I came from a really bad home and that's why I was in a foster home to begin with," said McLellan. "I was in a really bad home. I mean my life before I met Karen before I lived with her was stuff you see on TV."

"I had a horrible childhood and yet I managed to rise above it and do the right thing and be a good person in spite of everything I've been through," she added. "And I knew right from wrong whether or not I'd been shown right from wrong."

McLellan, who now lives in Eugene, Oregon, with her husband and son, plans to come back for the trial, to make sure people don't forget about her mother.

"I would just hope that she's watching me and she's watching my son grow up and because that's what she wanted to do," said McLellan. "She wanted to be a grandma. That's what was the focus of her life at that point before she died was that she was going to be a grandmother and she was so excited."

Bartley is being held in a jail cellblock overnight. He will appear in adult court Wednesday morning at 8 am.

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