OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. - For Chris Kunkel the memories come back to him like snapshots. Bursts of illumination paint the saddest pictures he's dreaded to see. Chris was 15-years-old when he was told his father died in a car crash.
"It was really a shock," Kunkel told 13 ON YOUR SIDE. "It was such a blow to my system."
On the afternoon of February 4, 1991 a car left Leonard Road in Polkton Township and slammed into a tree. Kenneth Kunkel, a well known businessman, was pronounced dead on scene. His business partner Ronald Redick was transported to the hospital with minor injuries. From his hospital bed Redick told the Grand Haven Tribune, Kunkel's use of his phone contributed to the crash.
"It didn't seem real. Even my thinking at the time that it was an accident it didn't seem real but obviously the truth came out," Chris said.
A month after the crash, Redick was arrested on an open murder charge. He was accused of killing his partner in Spring Lake and then staging an accident to cover it up. Investigators believe Redick killed Kunkel for insurance money to cover a more than $300,000 business debt.
"We knew that the business was failing and that they were trying to dissolve the partnership," Richard Kunkel, Ken's brother told 13 ON YOUR SIDE over the phone. "The business was failing. He [Ron] wanted to keep the insurance, he wanted the insurance money."
Redick was convicted of the murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole. On Thursday the Michigan Parole Board will hear 81-year-old's Redick's request for a shortened sentence. It's a petition that often happens when a Governor is leaving office.
But it's a plea that won't happen if the Kunkel's can help it.
"I don't think that he should be released," Chris added. "My father's dead. He's a father, a brother, would have been a grandfather to my kids, he's gone," he said as he choked back the tears.
13 On Your Side reached out to Redick's son, who is an attorney in Grand Rapids. He said he didn't want to comment on the matter, but stated he had no involvement in the commutation process.
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