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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Murder suspect has long record

By Peter Boylan and Mary Vorsino
Advertiser Staff Writer

'EWA BEACH A 15-year-old boy accused of strangling his neighbor had been arrested more than 10 times in the two years since he moved to Hawai'i from New Zealand with his family, according to law enforcement officials.

The boy has been arrested for felony burglary, misdemeanor trespassing, and misdemeanor theft, among other offenses, according to law enforcement officials. It was not known if he was convicted of any charges. The boy is being held at the juvenile detention facility on Alder Street while prosecutors seek to try him as an adult.

On Sunday, prosecutors petitioned Family Court to waive its jurisdiction over the boy so he can be charged as an adult in the death of 51-year-old Karen Ertell. Ertell died of "asphyxia due to manual strangulation," according to the office of the city medical examiner.

Yesterday, a family court judge scheduled a hearing for July to determine whether the boy will be tried as an adult.

Prosecutors are seeking to charge the boy with second-degree murder, robbery, burglary, auto theft and other offenses. The boy was arrested about 10 p.m. Saturday at his 'Ewa Beach home after his father called police to turn in his son, police said.

The mother and father of the juvenile suspect declined comment at their 'Ewa Beach home last night. Newspapers and television stations in Australia and New Zealand have reported that the boy moved to 'Ewa Beach with his father in mid-2005.

There was no answer at the victim's home yesterday.

Prosecutors and police yesterday declined to comment about the case.

"We can't talk about things that may or may not be pending," said first deputy prosecuting attorney Douglas S. Chin.

Chin said it is rare for prosecutors to seek to try a juvenile for murder in adult court.

Before adult charges can be brought, the prosecutor's office has to file a petition in Family Court. The family court holds hearings on the petition while investigating the case.

"Generally speaking, that process can take several weeks to up to several months," said Chin.

Family Court can waive jurisdiction if the minor is alleged to have committed murder and is deemed mentally fit to stand trial.

While some were still learning of Ertell's death yesterday, others stopped by her store on Auahi Street in Kaka'ako to leave flowers or pay their respects.

"She has a lot of longtime friends and customers," said friend Steph Jacobson. "They've been coming by all day."

Jacobson posted a large handwritten sign outside Ertell's store, Koko Crater Coffee Roasters, yesterday that read, "In loving memory of beloved Karen Ertell."

Customers and friends put their names and phone numbers on the sign to express their condolences and so Ertell's family could contact them for help or support.

"It's just devastating," Jacobson said.

Glenn Yamanouchi stopped by the store about 10 yesterday morning, only to learn that the coffee connoisseur he knew only as "Karen at Koko Crater's" had been killed.

"I was just kind of shocked," said Yamanouchi, who has bought coffee from Ertell for his church, Grace Fellowship in Waipio Uka, and himself for well over five years.

"She always tried to please you as a customer. She didn't care whether you were buying a thousand pounds or a small volume. That's what kept me going there."

Reach Peter Boylan at pboylan@honoluluadvertiser.com and Mary Vorsino at mvorsino@honoluluadvertiser.com.