by Karen Ann Hunt
Karen’s Law, HB819 HD2SD2 was heard in the Senate Judiciary and Government Operations Committee today. Chair Brian Taniguchi passed out Karen’s Law. However he amended the law to only include murder in the first degree. The bill now excludes murder in the second degree. Karen’s Law passed four out of five of the committees without this current amendment. There is still the ability to amend Karen’s Law back into the original bill prior to the Senate Judiciary Committee. This would take place in conference committee.
"I am upset that Karen's Law was amended to only include murder in the first degree. However, I am happy that the bill is progressing through the State Legislature. I also hope that the journey will be over soon and that the legislature will pass this much needed law to protect the people of Hawaii," stated Malanie McLellan, the daughter of Karen Ertell.
Karen’s Law has passed all five scheduled committees. HB819 HD2SD2 will now go to the floor for the Senate to vote on. From there, Karen’s Law will enter into the conference committee and be advanced to the joint session with both the Senate and the House. With all of your support, we have been able to keep this much needed law moving and on track. For that we thank you!! I have attached the Karen’s Law press release to the email.
HB819, introduced by Representative Pine and Representative Mizuno, would have mandated that juveniles, 15-17 years of age charged with first or second degree murder, be automatically tried as an adult. As the law currently stands, juvenile crime offenders, charged with 1st or 2nd degree murder can face two trials, one to determine which court to try them in and then another trial to decide guilt or innocence. With its current amendment, HB819HD2SD2 will continue to do the same. However, it will only be reflective of murder in the first degree.
On May 25, 2007, Karen Ertell was brutally raped and murdered in her home in Ewa Beach. Karen was the only real mother that her foster daughter, Melanie McLellan had ever known. Melanie was nine months pregnant with Karen's grandson. She described Karen as a giving, loving person who saw the best in people, and who was a vibrant woman whose life was very full. She owned her own business – Koko Crater Coffee Roasters --and was expecting her first grandchild. Her senseless murder left behind her loving partner – Kevin Callahan, her heart-broken mother and family, and hundreds of friends and business associates.