Ekstrom plea avoids murder charge

Holly Ekstrom, who was once charged with first-degree murder in the death of a Fort Dodge man, has instead pleaded guilty to two lesser charges as part of a plea agreement.

Ekstrom, 23, of Fort Dodge, filed a written plea of guilty to accessory after the fact and operating a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent Wednesday morning.

In her plea, Ekstrom wrote that she saw Ronald Dilley, 29, of Fort Dodge, kill Steven Fisher, 22, of Fort Dodge, on July 6, 2013, with a hatchet.

“I knowingly assisted him (Dilley) after the crime by driving us both away from the scene in Mr. Fisher’s car, by disposing of our clothing and the victim’s cell phone, all to avoid being caught by the police,” Ekstrom wrote. “I did not have permission to drive Steven Fisher’s car.”

According to the plea agreement, which was signed by Ekstrom, a two-year suspended prison sentence is being recommended on both counts with two years of probation.

Ekstrom is also being recommended to “participate and successfully complete residential treatment at YWCA once a bed is available.” A five-year no-contact order between Ekstrom and the Fisher family will also be recommended.

She is being held in the Webster County Jail on $500,000 bond.

Webster County Attorney Cori Kuhn Coleman did not respond to a voicemail or email request for comment.

Ekstrom’s attorney, Jill Emermann, of Des Moines, declined to comment.

The sentencing is scheduled for Monday in Fort Dodge.

Dilley, Ekstrom’s co-defendant, is serving 50 years in prison at Anamosa State Penitentiary after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in April.

During his plea hearing, Dilley said he killed Fisher on July 6, 2013, by hitting him four times in the head with a hatchet.

According to Dilley, Fisher made a comment that upset Dilley.

“I didn’t think about it before I did it,” Dilley testified on April 4. “I knew it was going to hurt him.”

After the murder, Dilley said he pulled Fisher’s body into the passenger side of Fisher’s pickup truck and drove out of Fort Dodge.

He left Fisher’s body in an Otho ditch before driving back into Fort Dodge. Dilley said he abandoned Fisher’s truck and walked away.

Fisher’s remains were found on July 10, one day after he was reported missing by his employer, Liguria Foods, of Humboldt.

Two days later, Fisher’s truck was found and seized by investigators.

Dilley and Ekstrom were arrested that same day.

Fisher was known to his family and friends as “Fish.” He was a 2009 graduate of Fort Dodge Senior High and was an aviation electronics technician with the Air National Guard.