Dilley sentenced to 50 years for murder

Ronald Dilley was sentenced to serve up to 50 years in prison Monday, more than a month after he admitted killing Steven Fisher by hitting him four times in the head with a hatchet.

Dilley, 29, of Fort Dodge, who was originally charged with first-degree murder, instead pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on April 4. He admitted to hitting Fisher, 22, of Fort Dodge, in the head with a hatchet on July 10, 2013, after the victim made a comment that upset Dilley.

He also admitted to dumping Fisher’s body in an Otho ditch before abandoning Fisher’s pickup truck in Fort Dodge.

At his sentencing Monday, Dilley heard statements from members of Fisher’s family as they described how his death has changed their lives.

Elaine Fisher, Steven Fisher’s mother, placed photos of her son on the witness stand as she made a brief statement. She also brought up a bag containing Fisher’s hair from his first haircut and an urn containing Fisher’s ashes.

“This is all I have left of my son,” she said. “I hope you’re happy.”

Elaine Fisher also read from a written statement that was made by her mother, and Steven Fisher’s grandmother, Velma Auen.

“How could you murder him in such a brutal way and then show no mercy?” Elaine Fisher read from the letter. “Steven touched many lives in his short life here on earth and was showing great potential.”

Auen’s letter went on to describe her grandson as a “good person. He was young and innocent.”

“I have lots of good memories,” Elaine Fisher read. “But the last memory of his brutal, gruesome death will haunt me for the rest of my life.”

Steven Fisher’s brother, Cory Fisher, also made a statement.

“You took my brother,” Cory Fisher said. “I just want to know why you would want to kill him. I had problems with him too, but I never wanted to kill him.”

“I’ll be an only child for the rest of my life,” Cory Fisher added.

Fisher’s aunt, Marlene Kuhn, told Dilley that his confession that he killed Fisher because of a comment that the victim made was “ridiculous.”

“We know comments were made, but those comments didn’t deserve this,” Kuhn said.

Another aunt, Marilyn Ball, said both adults and children loved Fisher.

“You had no right to kill Steven and steal his life from him,” Ball said. “You are a coward.”

Sarah Lovely, Cory Fisher’s girlfriend, told Dilley that he took so much from Steven Fisher’s family and friends.

“You took away Steven’s chance to give his parents grandchildren,” Lovely said. “You took Steven away from all of his friends. How dare you.”

Dilley declined the opportunity to speak on his behalf.

Chief Judge Kurt Wilke, of the 2nd Judicial District, also made a brief statement.

“Every murder I’ve been involved with as far as being a judge has been senseless,” he said. “This is a particularly brutal act and the sentence in this case is warranted.”

Dilley must serve 70 percent, or 35 years, of his sentence before he will be eligible for parole. He will also have to pay $150,000 in restitution to Fisher’s estate.

In addition to Dilley, Holly Ekstrom, 23, of Fort Dodge, is facing a first-degree murder charge in Fisher’s death. She has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to stand trial beginning July 22 in Fort Dodge.