I came into this world on October 23, 1978, the second of two children to Raymond and Patricia Mirabal. My older brother’s name is Marcus. My name is Matthew.
I was born in Billings, Montana. Not long after my birth my parents got a divorce and my mom returned to her hometown of Chamisal, New Mexico with Marcus and me. I lived in Chamisal until I was 17. That was when I moved to Colorado.
Chamisal is more of an accumulation of houses surrounded by the mountains of the Sangre de Cristo range of Northern New Mexico. The horse, cow and stray dog population outnumbers the human population.
My childhood was actually a pretty good one. In comparison to some guests on Dr. Phil or Oprah my childhood was great. I had all I needed and much of what I wanted.
My mother never remarried and worked multiple jobs to provide for my brother and myself. My summers were spent with my father in Las Vegas, Nevada. The virtues of hard work in relentless heat were espoused and exhibited by my dear ol’ dad in order to ensure that Marcus and I would grow to be hard-working men. We accompanied him to the construction site for as long as I can remember, as well as helping with his work in the garage.
In my early teens a close friend invited me and my brother to visit his church. There were quite a few kids in our age group. A culture of youth involvement was fostered in order to try to deter the youth from straying from the path the Lord would have them follow.
In the church community I had always known who Natalie Vasquez was. She was an active church member. Naturally, I grew to know her well enough for an infatuation with her to develop. She was 19 and I was 15 when we began dating.
When I was 14 I became disenchanted with school. Feeling like I knew it all, I dropped out after my freshman year of high school. I began working construction full-time when I left school.
The pastor of my church was a good man. I looked up to him as a mentor and role-model. He often hired me to do odd jobs and help around the house. In 1996 he planned to move his family to Longmont, Colorado. The economy of Northern New Mexico was weak. Longmont and all surrounding areas was experiencing a construction boom. Relocating, for me, was a no-brainer. Work was more than abundant in Longmont and financial stability was in sight.
On November 9, 1996, Natalie and I married. In hindsight I can see that I was too immature for such a grown-up role. I was a pseudo-adult trying to be a real one.
My daughter was born on May 28, 1999. Mikaela Monique Mirabal weighed five pounds, one ounce. She was the most beautiful little person I had ever seen. I had no idea I could love someone so much.
Only four months later, on September 26, 1999, Natalie was. Her last moments on earth were no doubt terrifying, brutal and heinous. My daughter lost her mother and I lost my wife to a senseless act of violence.
Coming to prison was never part of my life’s plan. I never sold drugs. I never robbed or burglarized anyone. I was not and am not a gang member. When I ended up in the Department of Corrections (DOC) I was absolutely a fish out of water.
At the age of 21, I became inmate number 106675. I was young, naïve, inexperienced and scared out of my mind of the prison sentence I was embarking upon. It soon became apparent that all the prison horror stories I’d heard were exaggerations of very isolated incidents. Keep that in mind when you watch prison movies or television shows. The reality of the situation is that prison is, for the most part, a boring, lonely, non-productive waste of time. Few moments of violence or excitement punctuate the monotony.
If an incarcerated individual wants to make changes in his life for the better, he must really have to want that and find it in himself to make the best use of his time. Since coming to prison I have dedicated a lot of energy to the pursuit of physical fitness. I lifted weights for years until I realized how much I disliked weight training. I began a love affair with cardiovascular training in the form of running that persists to this day. At my peak I logged as much as 80 miles a week. I don’t run as much nowadays but I do still engage in various forms of cardio.
I love music now and always have. I began playing guitar in prison due to this love of music. The guitar has been an out-of-control obsession at times that I currently manage at a healthy level. I have been a member of multiple bands in recent years. My music theory education is ongoing.
Various religions have been the topics of study for me as I seek answers that I may not ever find. As hard as I tried to align myself with the Christian church in my life before prison I never quite felt like it fit. Since that time I have settled on two complimentary belief systems in whose fundamental philosophies I find no flaw. I attend regular Buddhist meetings and am an active participant in a Native American faith that follows the Lakota tradition. For years I have attended weekly purification sweat lodge ceremonies with the Native American contingent here. For the past two years I have been honored to be the pipe carrier for our circle.
I have two main goals in life at this point, each as important as the other. One of them is to become the man I am supposed to become. The other is to find justice in the form of exoneration and release from prison.