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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, February 12, 2010

Ewa Beach teen admitted to stealing from slain woman, mother says

By Jim Dooley
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Jillian Bartley is questioned by Deputy Prosecutor Douglas Chin this morning in the murder trial of her 17-year-old son Vernon.

RICHARD AMBO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Jillian Bartley testified this morning as a prosecution witness in the murder trial of her 17-year-old son Vernon.

She described the murder victim, Karen Ertell, 51, as a “neighbor and friend” of the Bartley family in the Ewa Beach area.
Questioned by First Deputy Prosecutor Douglas Chin, Mrs. Bartley said her son had admitted to her that he committed several burglaries of Ertell’s home in 2006, months before he allegedly raped and strangled her May 25, 2007.
“He basically told me he did (the burglaries) because I asked him to tell me the truth and he did,” she said.
In the last burglary, Bartley stole between $500 and $600 from Ertell’s home, his mother testified.
“I apologized to her, of course,” Mrs. Bartley testified, adding that Ertell was repaid the money the same day.
Ertell filed a police complaint in that case and Vernon Bartley was facing a burglary charge in Family Court when Ertell died.
Asked by Chin if she remembered being subpoenaed to appear with her son in that case a day or two before Ertell died, Mrs. Bartley said she did not.
She described her son, who was 15 years old at the time of the murder, as being physically and emotionally immature for his age.
He was “missing and skipping classes” at school and “was still struggling in grade 7” at an age when his peers were well into high school, she said.
Although shy, Bartley had friends “but not the right kind,” she said.
Mrs. Bartley’s testimony concluded the presentation of evidence in the non-jury trial.
But Chin and defense lawyer Jeffrey Hawk must still argue before Circuit Judge Virginia Crandall about the admissibility of some of the evidence in the case.
And each side must argue about the rape charge lodged against Bartley, because of evidence in the case indicating that the victim was already dead when Bartley allegedly sexually assaulted her.
Bartley admitted to police, in a tape recorded session that was attended by his mother, that he strangled Ertell with a “triangle” choke hold, but made no admission about the rape charge.