DES MOINES, Iowa — At just 15-years old, Kristina Fetters was the youngest Iowan ever to be sentenced to life in prison without parole. Tonight that sentence is complete.
In the end, the last person to forgive Kristina Fetters for what she did was Kristina herself. “When everybody else was telling her that they forgave her and they’re showing her unconditional love, she didn’t feel she deserved it. It was very hard for her to accept.” says Fetters friend and former cellmate.
In 1994, at just 14-years old, Fetters brutally killed her 73-year-old great aunt. Two years before that, Fetters was a victim of a horrible crime herself, and then a victim of the system. “She was kidnapped and raped. Her nose broken. Beaten. Held at gunpoint. And that’s hard to deal with,” Ross says, “She was on three different medications that are well known to not play well together now. She was showing every warning sign, every red flag that you possibly could on these drugs and they were all ignored.”
In prison, Fetters and Ross became more than friends. They were like sisters. Both, of them were kids serving life for an adult crime; killing someone else. Over the years they spoke with other troubled kids and tried to steer them in the right direction. “They came in and everybody would share their story. It would be Kristina, myself, and another inmate. We’d just open ourselves up and let it all pour out and let them see us for the same flawed humans that they are.”
Fetters was among the first in Iowa to have her sentence reconsidered after a Supreme Court decision in 2012. That decision made it unconstitutional to sentence juveniles to life in prison without parole. But before a decision could be reached, Fetters was diagnosed with cancer.
Fetters was granted a compassionate release from prison in December. Ross doesn’t want her remembered for her crime. She wants her friend remembered for the good she did after her crime. “Everybody’s like, well, she was a monster. She was evil. It would be so easy in this world if that were just the case. But that’s not the way that it is. Not everybody that commits a crime…not everybody that’s a sinner is evil or a monster,” Ross says, “Her legacy, I hope, will challenge other people to see what they can do for kids. For teenagers. Before it gets to the point where they’re in prison or needing to go before a judge for any reason.”
In the end, Fetters’ family forgave her for what she did. In the end, Fetters forgave herself. And, Ross says, because of that she was able to die in peace.