Rasberry Williams is serving a life-in-prison sentence for shooting Lester Givhan in a pool hall over a $30 bet in 1974, The Waterloo-Cedar Falls (Iowa) Courier reported.
In a public hearing to determine if Williams may someday be eligible for parole, two of Givhan's cousins said Williams should be given a second chance.
"We have forgiven him but we would like to get some communication with him to see where's he's at," said Lee Dennis Reed, one of the cousins.
"We don't know if he's changed or not."
Olabelle Reed, another cousin, said she wanted to know, "Is he sorry? Has his life changed?"
Parole Board Chairman Jason Carlstrom said inmates are generally forbidden from communicating with the families of their victims.
Lee Reed said the family was interested in participating in a corrections department program that would allow them to write or talk to Williams.
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad will consider recommendations from the parole board before deciding whether to commute Williams' sentence.