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Teen said to be fit for trial


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POSTED: Tuesday, May 05, 2009

When Honolulu police interviewed Vernon Bartley about the rape and killing of his neighbor, he was quiet and meek, according to state court records.

But as he was demonstrating how he strangled 51-year-old Karen Ertell at her Ewa Beach home May 25, 2007, his demeanor changed, and “;he gave a short smile and silent laugh, apparently replaying the murder in his mind.”;

;[Preview]    Bartley Fit For Trial
  ;[Preview]
 

Nearly two years after the death of Karen Ertell, three experts revealed that Vernon Bartley is not mentally ill.

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Bartley, 17, is awaiting trial in state court as an adult for murder, robbery, sexual assault, burglary and other charges. He was 15 at the time.

Based on the reports of three mental health experts who examined him, his lawyer and the state agreed yesterday that Bartley is mentally fit to stand trial and that he was not suffering from a mental disease, defect or disorder at the time that would have compromised his legal responsibility to behave within the limits of the law.

“;All three doctors said that it would be very hard for him to say that he's not guilty because of insanity,”; said Douglas Chin, first deputy prosecutor.

Bartley is scheduled to go to trial next month.

He told all three experts that he has a history of alcohol, marijuana and cocaine abuse and was “;high”; the night before and on the morning he admitted killing Ertell.

He told clinical psychologist Terence Wade he started drinking at 12 and by 15 was drinking every day. Bartley also said he starting using cocaine and marijuana at 12 or 13 and by 15 used them whenever he had money to buy the drugs.

In trying to explain to Wade why he committed the crimes, Bartley said, “;I blacked out. I wasn't myself,”; according to Wade's report. He also told Wade he blacks out “;every time I drink and smoke,”; which is “;often.”;

Psychiatrist Kosta Stojanovich does not believe Bartley was drug- or alcohol-dependent nor Bartley's claim that he was high when he killed Ertell.

Bartley admitted that he “;thought about”; carrying out the crimes at least two days before he committed them.

Stojanovich said Bartley would not have been able to carry out his plan and take steps he did to conceal his actions if he were high on alcohol and/or drugs.

Bartley admitted driving off in Ertell's car and taking a friend for a ride after the killing.

Stojanovich said police have statements from witnesses who said Bartley was “;happy and singing and dancing in the car.”;