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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mother testifies against son

By Jim Dooley
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Jillian Bartley, mother of murder defendant Vernon Bartley, was questioned by first deputy prosecutor Douglas Chin yesterday about a burglary case involving her son.

RICHARD AMBO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Vernon Bartley

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The mother of an 'Ewa Beach youth on trial for the murder of a neighbor testified yesterday that her son admitted to her that he committed several burglaries of Karen Ertell's home in 2006, months before he allegedly raped and strangled Ertell on May 25, 2007.

"He basically told me he did (the burglaries) because I asked him to tell me the truth and he did," said Jillian Bartley, the mother of defendant Vernon Bartley, 17.

Jillian Bartley, testifying as a prosecution witness, described Ertell, 51, as a "neighbor and friend" of the Bartley family.

In the last burglary, Vernon 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 First Deputy Prosecutor Douglas Chin if she remembered being subpoenaed to appear with her son in the burglary 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.

Jillian Bartley's testimony concluded the presentation of evidence in the nonjury trial.

Chin and defense lawyer Jeffrey Hawk still must 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.