Victim's family considers suspect an adult
Relatives of a slain Ewa Beach woman said yesterday the teen accused of her murder should be tried as an adult.
"His actions are definitely those of an adult, and we're all grieving right now," said Holly Dunlap, the niece of Karen Ertell, 51, who was found strangled at home Friday.
"We are all hoping ... just like Karen would want, that he ultimately would learn a lesson and turn his life around and express remorse for his actions," said Dunlap, part of a family contingent that arrived yesterday from Oregon and Washington state.
Police said prosecutors are recommending Family Court waive jurisdiction in the case, but prosecutors declined comment, citing confidentiality laws protecting minors.
First Deputy Prosecutor Douglas Chin explained that a Family Court judge can waive jurisdiction only in murder or attempted-murder cases, and only if the defendant is not found to be mentally deficient or mentally ill.
Chin said the court would consider the seriousness of the offenses, the aggressive, violent and willful nature of the crime, the sophistication of the suspect and the public's protection.
In Family Court, the boy would face a maximum of four years in prison, until he reaches age 19.
Police said Ertell's murder in her Ewa Beach home was well-planned and well-executed.
Her teenage neighbor was arrested Saturday on investigation of second-degree murder after his father turned him in. The man said his son admitted to strangling Ertell and driving away in her car.
Dunlap arrived in Honolulu yesterday with Ertell's mother, Irene Ertell of Oregon, sister Robyn Dunlap, brother Keith Ertell and niece Kelsy Dunlap.
Robyn Dunlap, Holly's mother, had planned to move to Hawaii to work with her sister at her business, Koko Crater Coffee Roasters. "She was getting all her things all packed up and was going to move over in a few weeks," Holly Dunlap said. "And we were all planning to come out and visit for the holidays."
Ertell, born in Texas to an Army family, lived in Italy; Germany; Washington, D.C.; Colorado; Kansas; Washington state; and Oregon.
She moved to Hawaii from Oregon in 1992 after a friend who moved a few years earlier told her how wonderful it was. "She loved it here and the people and the culture, and she fit in really well in the community," Dunlap said.