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Convicted killer Kimberly Harris pleads to be let out of prison: ‘God controls my thoughts’

Kimberly Harris was sentenced to life in prison for the 1997 murders of Debbie Bell and Patty Eitel. In 2001, the life sentencing statute allowed for the possib
Published: Feb. 9, 2022 at 5:43 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A woman convicted of murdering her two coworkers 25 years ago told members of the Kentucky Parole Board she now relies on prayer when she has bad thoughts.

Kimberly Harris was sentenced to life in prison for the 1997 murders of Debbie Bell and Patty Eitel. In 2001, the life sentencing statute allowed for the possibility of parole after 25 years. Harris would be eligible to being let out this April if the board agrees on her release. That law was amended one year after Harris’ case to allow for a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Watch the complete hearing at the bottom of the article.

Harris, now 48 years old, presented her case for release to two members of the parole board on Wednesday, who would have the authority to parole Harris, or re-evaluate her after another five years. Anything more than five years would require the approval of the full board.

The board’s chairwoman Ladeidra N. Jones was also present.

“I am a changed person,” Harris said. “I’ve been to the dark side and I never want to do that again.”

Harris was asked to retrace the events of the day she murdered both women in the parking lot of their workplace, a nursing home on Herr Lane.

Harris explained that Patty Eitel had been helpful to her before the murders and had even transported her to Central Hospital for mental health treatment. When Harris was released after three days, she returned to the nursing home, expecting to be rehired. She became enraged whenever it did not happen, she stated.

“I obsessed about that,” Harris said.

She also admitted to stealing Patty Eitel’s dog before the murders.

“I had this bad thought, you know, ‘Why don’t I just take her dog?’” Harris said, “and I acted on it.”

Harris also harassed the women over the phone.

“I would, just, uh, always would leave these hang up calls, like just, being wicked,” she said Wednesday. “I don’t know how else to put it.”

Harris said she went looking for Patty Eitel on the morning of the murders but did not see her, all while struggling with negative thoughts in her head.

“I was all over the place that day,” Harris said. “I even went to the shelter and adopted a dog. … I just had these bad thoughts that made me want to give up and kill myself.”

Harris recalled returning to the nursing home as the victims were leaving work and seeing the them talking on the sidewalk.

“I got the pistol out from underneath the car seat and had it in my waistband and I just walked up to them and pulled it and started shooting,” Harris said.

“At what point did it change from your intention to kill yourself to your intention to shoot these two women?” a member of the parole board asked.

“When I went there, I was just all day long, I kept going back and forth between killing myself and not killing myself, and then I had the thought, ‘I’ll just do something horrific and I’ll kill myself rather than keep putting it off,’” Harris said. “I thought that if I do something that I can’t live with, it’ll be easier than for me trying to convince myself otherwise.”

Harris was asked what happened next.

“I shot Patty, and I went back and forth, they started running,” Harris said. “They started running and then fell, they were screaming.”

Harris remembered continuing to shoot the women as they were lying on the ground.

“Behind the ear,” Harris said. “(The gun) was held to them. It was horrific.”

Harris denied kicking the women or slamming Patty Eitel’s head against the concrete, as witnesses initially claimed.

“I did walk up and touched Patty’s head,” Harris said. “I said ‘I love you,’ or something like that.”

Harris then told the board that all she wanted to do was get home and see her mother so she could tell Harris what to do.

She was then questioned about why she did not commit suicide after the shootings, as she had stated she intended.

“I have no idea,” Harris replied. “I ask myself that too.”

Harris said she now thinks of her victims as people who tried to help her and did their best.

“They were good people,” Harris said. “They were really good to me. I look back and I see it now, but at the time with my bad thoughts and all, I just didn’t take responsibility for nothing, but they gave me a chance. They gave me a job.”

“It’s horrible, beyond words,” Harris said of the impact she had on the victims’ families. “They don’t have their wives, mothers, their sisters, it’s been awful.

Harris was disciplined in prison in 2002 for attacking another inmate and guards following an argument with a friend and fellow inmate.

“I just wanted to push her into the flowerbed,” Harris recalled.

As guards wheeled Harris in, she claimed she saw another inmate being escorted out and attempted to run after her. She then kicked and scratched the officers who were attempting to restrain her.

According to the board members, Harris has completed a number of classes and programs while incarcerated. She also participates in their honors program and has been a long-time participant in the Paws with a Purpose program, where inmates train dogs. According to Harris, the program has helped in her transformation.

Harris said the programs have greatly helped her in learning how to deal with her emotions and have made her realize she’s not the same person she used to be.

“I started seeing myself as being worthy, because for a long time, I just felt bad about myself,” she said. “I would judge myself on my past.”

Harris told the board members that she was never diagnosed with a mental illness and that she is no longer taking medication because she believed she was healed and that it was not helping her with her negative thoughts and made her sleepy. She also said she is no longer receiving mental health services.

“I got to praying and just turned to God for everything and I believe I got divine healing for all the mental stuff.”

She said God chooses her thoughts now.

“I still have, like, stuff will go through my mind but I can cut it off, and do things like meditate on different scriptures that help me get my mind back on track,” Harris said.

Her triggers, she said, are being criticized or corrected for something she’s done wrong.

“I can be a force for change,” Harris said when asked why she should be let out of prison. “I want to be a force for good. I have been to the dark side and I never want to do that ever again. … I take full responsibility,” she added.

The case will be discussed by the full parole board, and a decision will be made sometime next week.

If she is granted parole, Harris said she intends to live in Elizabethtown with her sister and mother.

Watch the full parole hearing below.

Kimberly Harris parole hearing | Part 1
Kimberly Harris parole hearing | Part 2
Kimberly Harris parole hearing | Part 3
Kimberly Harris parole hearing | Part 4
Kimberly Harris parole hearing | Part 5
Kimberly Harris parole hearing | Part 6
Kimberly Harris parole hearing | Part 7
Kimberly Harris parole hearing | Part 8

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