KAILUA-KONA — The sister of a woman stabbed to death more than a decade ago says she’s “horrified” by the state’s decision to parole the man who took the life of her loved one after serving just over half his 20-year sentence.
State Department of Public Safety Spokeswoman Toni Schwartz confirmed Wednesday that James Fuller Abernethy is set to be released June 20 to a community-based program on Oahu after serving a few months shy of 11 years for the fatal stabbing of his sister-in-law, 57-year-old Victoria “Vicky” Vickers, on Aug. 12, 2008, at a South Kona home.
Abernethy was sentenced in June 2011 to concurrent sentences of up to 20 years for manslaughter and five years for assault for the 2008 incident. He faced a second-degree murder charge; however, in a plea deal with prosecutors, Abernethy pleaded guilty to the reduced charge of manslaughter. In exchange, he was allowed to begin seeking parole after serving five years.
“I’m horrified that they gave him release,” said Linda Vickers on Wednesday. “As far as I understood, he made no effort to enroll in any classes to deal with these offenses and his violence against women, which has been going on for 20-30 years to my knowledge. It seemed like they wanted him out. It’s like they bent over backwards to allow him to be paroled because a lot of the hearings were postponed this year because he hadn’t completed the classes that were necessary.
“I don’t understand why they just didn’t deny it until he showed remorse and commitment to dealing with his demons,” the Big Island resident continued.
Abernethy was tentatively granted parole during a hearing before the Hawaii Paroling Authority in April in Honolulu upon verification of his acceptance into a community-based program, according to Schwartz. His fifth and most recent effort to gain parole began in January. On Monday, his acceptance to the program was confirmed. He will be released directly to the program on Oahu, Schwartz said.
“He must follow all of the standard terms and conditions of parole, as well as some terms and conditions determined by the parole board,” Schwartz said. “In addition, he will be subject to periodic unannounced drug testing and unannounced field visits by his parole officer to his residence and place of employment.”
Violating the terms and conditions could result in arrest.
“Inmate Abernethy will be supervised and treated as any other parolee would be treated,” Schwartz also noted.
Abernethy has been incarcerated since his arrest the day of Victoria Vickers’ killing, and injuring of his wife, Linda Vickers, at their Kona Paradise home. Linda Vickers and Abernethy were separated, but not divorced at the time. Victoria Vickers had relocated to Kona to help her sister care for her ailing then-partner.
On Aug. 12, 2008, Abernethy and Victoria Vickers were arguing when Abernethy got a knife and fatally stabbed the woman in the chest. He also stabbed Linda Vickers in the hand.
Abernethy first sought parole in June 2015, and was unsuccessful three times thereafter, most recently being denied parole in December 2016 and December 2017 for not completing all recommended programs.
Had he not been paroled, Abernethy was set for release on Aug. 6, 2028.
When questioned whether she thinks Abernethy’s parole is a threat to the community, Linda Vickers said, “Absolutely, I do.”
“That’s based on the way he’s behaved,” she said. “If he doesn’t get his way on things, he resorts to violence and he just has a real love affair with knives.”
But, she’s not scared herself.
“I’m past that,” Linda Vickers said. “I’m so full of hatred for the man. If I could, I would take a 2-by-4 to his head.”
Email Chelsea Jensen at email@example.com.