1991 murderer asks governor for freedom

Ottawa County

HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — A man convicted of killing his business partner then staging a crash is asking to be let out of prison.

Ronald Redick was convicted of first-degree murder in the December 1991 death of Kenneth Kunkel in Ottawa County and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Now 81, he has asked Gov. Rick Snyder to commute his sentence.

Snyder approved a Michigan Department of Corrections Parole Board hearing on the case. On Thursday morning, Redick will run through the details of what happened and explain to the board how his time served has changed him.

An MDOC spokesman told 24 Hour News 8 that two of the 10 parole board members will hear Redick’s argument. They will relay all of the information back to the full board. After two to three weeks, the board will share its recommendation on the commutation request with the governor. Snyder will make the final decision.

“I don’t know if you can forgive something that big and that huge and that purposeful and that cruel,” Kunkel’s sister-in-law Lois Heidema-Bucel said Tuesday, speaking on behalf of the family.

She said knew Kunkel from a young age and that they had been business partners for a while. She was devastated when she learned that Redick killed Kunkel and then tried to cover it up with a poorly manufactured crash scene 20 miles away.

“The pain is so indescribable when somebody is so close for so long,” she said.

The devastation returned after learning of Redick’s request for freedom.

“I thought we were over having to even ever think about him,” she told 24 Hour News 8 at her Holland home.

Heidema-Bucel’s sister, Rosemary Ankerman, was married to Kunkel. The two only celebrated one Christmas as husband and wife.

“I was afraid I was going to lose her. She grieved so hard, and she still does,” Heidema-Bucel said.

Both Heidema-Bucel and Ankerman wrote letters to the parole board, requesting that Redick stay locked up.

“I just would like him to disappear,” Heidema-Bucel said.

Kunkel’s family and prosecutors from the 1991 case can also speak at the hearing, an MDOC spokesman said.

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