Kristina Fetters, now 33-years-old, was convicted of murdering her great-aunt, Arlene Klehm, 73, in 1995 at the age of 14. She was the youngest inmate in Iowa to be serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. However, after Fetters was diagnosed with inoperable stage four breast cancer, the Parole Board granted her a "compassion release", on Tuesday, so that she can receive the medical care she needs in hospice care.
This marks the first time that Iowa will release an inmate based on the United States Supreme Court ruling last year that determined that life without parole was unconstitutional for juveniles. However, there are conditions for her parole release. Fetters is to remain under constant supervision and will have to meet with her parole officer frequently. Fred Scaletta, a spokesman for the Iowa Department of Corrections, says that Fetters is not currently a threat to society. "The parole board always looks at public safety. Considering her medical condition, she is not really a threat to public safety," he said.
Board member W. Thomas Phillips said that if her condition was to change the Parole Board would reassess the situation and would decide if she should remain on parole or return to prison. “Should things change, miraculously or whatever ... the Board of Parole would reassess,” he said. “I do not see this necessarily being the final vote that the board would take.”
Fetters and her family have been waiting for this decision since the Polk County District Judge, Douglas Staskal, resentenced her in November to allow parole to be an option. Fetters is scheduled to be released to a Hospice of Central Iowa facility within the next two weeks.
“It’s now time for my family to have closure,” Darcy Olson, Fetters' aunt, said. “Kris’ impending death cannot be denied, and while there have been negative comments, we believe, as the victims, that this family has suffered enough.”
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