Dorothy de Souza Guedes/CLINTON BUREAU/May 31, 2001
CLINTON, Iowa Convicted murderer Dennis Fredericksen will appear at a hearing before the Iowa Board of Parole today, but it's doubtful that he'll speak on his behalf.
For more than 10 years, Fredericksen has been quadriplegic, unable to speak and confined to the infirmary at Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison. He will appear at the hearing via the Iowa Communications Network site at the prison.
The case is unusual because the Iowa Department of Corrections, or DOC, not the inmate, is asking the governor to commute his life prison sentence. Fredericksen, 49, is serving a life sentence on a 1990 first-degree murder conviction for shooting his 35-year-old wife, Adelia, at their Clinton home. He has been in a virtually vegetative state since he suffered cardiac arrest resulting in brain damage in November 1990, two months after he was sentenced. There has been little improvement in his condition since then.
At issue is the cost of Fredericksen's medical care. The average annual cost of housing an inmate is $20,000 but Fredericksen's care costs the state about $66,000 a year. As a Vietnam veteran, Fredericksen is eligible for placement in a veterans' home, which would shift the cost of his care to the Veteran's Administration.
The governor asked the Iowa Board of Parole to review the case and make a recommendation. The governor has the power to grant reprieves, commutations and pardons after conviction of all offenses, except treason and impeachment. If the board of parole makes the recommendation that the sentence be commuted, the governor has 90 days to make his decision.
If the governor commutes the sentence, then the DOC will initiate a request for parole consideration and the board will hold a parole hearing. If Fredericksen is paroled, the next step would be to apply for placement in the Iowa Veterans Home at Marshalltown.
Clinton area residents interested in viewing today's Iowa Board of Parole hearing on the case of Dennis Fredericksen may do so via closed-circuit television at 9:30 a.m. at the Iowa National Guard Armory, 1200 13th Ave. N., Clinton. The hearing will be broadcast through the Iowa Communications Network site at the armory, which seats about 20 people.