DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Fliers were handed out yesterday urging the Ewa community to write letters to Family Court and district representatives to try the accused killer of Karen Ertell as an adult. At the Ewa Beach Shopping Center, Ertell's boyfriend, Kevin Callahan, right, gave a flier to Jay Hoshino as Hoshino's sons, Joseph, left, and Jonah, looked on. CLICK FOR LARGE
Push on to try teen as an adult
Fliers are distributed urging a letter writing campaign to Family Court
STORY SUMMARY »
Friends of a murdered Ewa Beach woman are trying to lobby the Family Court to have the 15-year-old boy suspect tried as an adult.
Kevin Callahan, the boyfriend of victim Karen Ertell, and other friends passed out fliers yesterday asking people to write letters urging the Family Court waive jurisdiction. A hearing is scheduled on July 24.
If tried as a minor, the teenage suspect faces a maximum sentence of four years, until he reaches age 19. If tried as an adult, the boy would face life in prison.
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A closed-door hearing on whether a 15-year-old murder suspect can be tried as an adult will be held in Family Court in two weeks.
If the judge decides that the case will be heard in Family Court, the proceedings will continue to be secret. If convicted, the suspect must be released in four years, when he turns 19.
Kevin Callahan, the boyfriend of victim Karen Ertell, believes the public should know about the crime.
Ertell was found stabbed to death in her Ewa Beach home.
Callahan and a handful of his friends were at Ewa shopping centers yesterday, passing out fliers and asking residents to write the Family Court urging it to waive jurisdiction.
"There's no guarantees in the court, and the judges can do whatever they want," Callahan said. "I just feel I can carry the torch until at least the hearing. I would do anything for this girl, and it's the least I could do for her."
Prosecutors want Family Court to waive its jurisdiction in the murder case so the Campbell High School student can be tried as an adult. If the boy is tried as an adult, his trial would be public; if convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
Prosecutors have declined comment on the case, citing confidentiality laws. However, prominent criminal defense attorney Brook Hart said he expects the boy will be tried as an adult.
Under the waiver statute, there are several factors Family Court judges must consider, including whether the crime was committed in an aggressive, violent, premeditated or willfull manner, Hart said.
The suspect must also be mentally fit to stand trial and not mentally ill.
Another big factor is the community's safety, Hart said.
"The interest the law has in protecting juveniles is weighed against the interests the law has in punishing and disrupting the behavior of those who prey on the community," Hart said. "You rarely have people under 16 waived to the adult court, but I think this is a case that likely could be waived."
Hart also noted that the boy was under investigation for an earlier burglary at Ertell's house.
Ertell's family has said that she offered the boy work instead of pressing charges.
"It appears if the killing was done in such a methodical and planned manner," Hart said.
Callahan said he plans to meet with the Ewa Neighborhood Board this week to ask them to write a letter to the Family Court as well.
Most of the people he has met since the ordeal agree that the boy should be tried as an adult, he said. Callahan had passed out about 300 informational fliers an hour after he started.
"Doing this does help to ease the pain, because I have to stay busy," Callahan said. "I could never have imagined someone this close to me being killed this way. I feel ripped off."