Vote on 'Karen's Law' deferred until Friday - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Vote on 'Karen's Law' deferred until Friday

Malanie McLellan Malanie McLellan

By Leland Kim - bio | email

HAWAII STATE CAPITOL (KHNL) - A bill that would impose harsher penalties for juveniles convicted of murder went up for discussion once again Tuesday at the state Capitol. Members of the House Judiciary Committee discussed "Karen's Law (HB 819HD1) but deferred it until Friday for a vote.

House Judiciary chair Jon Riki Karamatsu, D-Waipahu, Waikele, Village Park, and other House lawmakers met to talk about "Karen's Law." It is named after Karen Ertell, an Ewa Beach woman who was raped and murdered almost two years ago. Last year, the bill died in the House Judiciary Committee.

"It doesn't seem like there's as much resistance to hearing the bill," said Malanie McLellan, Ertell's daughter. "It seems like people are a little more open minded even just to hear it before just shooting it down."

Almost two years after Ertell was murdered, the family faced multiple waiver hearings and still the trial for Vernon Bartley, the teenager who is accused of the crime, has not begun yet.

"It shows we're not just being pushed under the rug as the victim's family," said McLellan. "It shows that people care enough to look at our situation and say the laws need to be changed and things need to be updated."

McLellan says the current system victimizes the victim's families over and over again.

"We've had to spend so much time on this," she said. "No one should have to go through that."

As lawmakers continue to discuss the fate of "Karen's Law," McLellan says any step forward gives her and other victims' families hope.

"It's almost like a little bit more of a victory," she said. "That's how I try to look at it. Otherwise, I'd feel a little bit beaten down."

McLellan says she wants the law changed so no family has to go through what she and her family went through.

The House Judiciary Committee will vote on "Karen's Law" Friday.

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