Family Reacts to Parole Ruling for Dying Inmate - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Family Reacts to Parole Ruling for Dying Inmate

By: Jason Rantala


A dying inmate was granted a release from prison Tuesday by the Iowa Parole Board.

At just 15-years-old, Kristina Fetters was convicted of 1st degree murder in the stabbing death of her great aunt, Arlene Klehm.

Ever since, Fetters, now 33, had been serving a life sentence without parole.

In September, she was diagnosed with Stage Four breast cancer. Two weeks ago, a judge ruled she could be paroled.

On Tuesday, the parole board decided to send her to hospice care where she'll be under intense supervision.  

"It's very bittersweet, she's still not a healthy person and I'm grateful that my sister will be able to spend this time with her and other family members," said Fetter's Aunt, Darcy Olson.

The decision was made after more than an hour of discussion by board, where they heard from a doctor, Fetter's aunt and a victim, among others.

One of the board's concerns was Fetter's recent behavior while in prison. She had gotten into several scuffles with other inmates.

She also hadn't been in any re–entry programs.

The board agreed Fetter's behavior could have been because of her condition.

Even though Fetters is receiving care while in prison, the board agreed she would receive the best care in hospice, and wouldn't be a threat while under close supervision.

Doctors say Fetter's condition has been remaining stable lately and that she is responding well to treatment.

If Fetters' condition does improve, she could be moved back to prison.

The move to hospice will need to be reviewed by the 5th Judicial District, which means Fetter's move to hospice could take up to 2 weeks.

"Considering the medical needs and condition of Fetters, the Parole Board decided to go ahead and do a review and that was the basis for the decision today, to go ahead and authorize a release," said Assistant Director for the Iowa Department of Corrections Fred Scalleta.

Shanna Sickles, Fetter's cousin, remembers the day that changed her family's life forever.

"Shock, not because she was granted parole because I kind of had a feeling that was coming," said Sickles.

"My dad called and said 'turn the news on, you're not going to believe this, Krissy just murdered Arlene."

Sickles says she wants her cousin to receive the help she needs, but says it's important to remember the victims.

"My Aunt was stabbed 17 times, she wasn't allowed painkillers, she wasn't allowed hospice, she wasn't allowed to say goodbye."

"It's been long enough and it's time to let it go. I think until you have watched someone die of cancer, how horrible it is, how extremely painful it is... unless you've done that, you can only have empathy and compassion in your heart for the family and for Kris," said Olson.

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