Liar, cheater, philanderer, and distrustful are among some of the adjectives used to describe me at one point or another. At one point or another each of the above have been true and accurate. In the summer of the year 2000 a new label was slapped on and I was presented as a “murderer” to a jury of 12. It would prove to be the label that carried the most weight and has had consequences that have affected my life more than any other before or since.
In the summer of 2000 I was convicted of first-degree murder in Boulder County, Colorado. Life in prison without parole is a mandatory sentence for a first-degree murder conviction. An account of events was presented to the media and the jury who handed down my conviction. This account was constructed of a few facts and plenty of conjecture by prosecutors and police.
Most defense attorneys advise their clients to keep a closed mouth about their case. My attorneys were no exception to such advice. Therefore, my account of what took place has been heard only by my closest family and friends. Had my account been heard by the jury it is my opinion that they would have reached a verdict of innocence.
My purpose in writing this is to finally allow my voice to be heard to all who care to hear it. Not only is this account my truth, it is the truth.
Perhaps many of you who read this have already made up your minds about not only me, but about anyone who has been convicted of a crime or at least charged with one. If you belong to that group you may not ever be swayed from such beliefs. Keep in mind, though, that the judicial system is run by human beings and the likelihood of error is certain anytime human beings are involved. Also remember that even when the accused and/or convicted are exonerated prosecutors and police rarely admit fallibility.
This is my story…
In September of 1999 I was 20 years old. I was married to a young woman named Natalie. We had a daughter who was then four months old. Natalie’s brother, Nehemiah, was 15 years old and he too lived with us. We lived in Longmont, Colorado, a town situated about 12 miles northeast of Boulder.
The 25th of September was a Saturday not unlike most other Saturdays. We had a couple and their children over for dinner after which we went to the Pearl Street Mall (an outdoor pedestrian mall) in Boulder.
We hung out there and wrapped up our evening at Starbuck’s at about 11:00 pm. We said goodbye to our friends and parted ways. Natalie, Nehemiah, my infant daughter, and I got into Natalie’s and my (primarily hers) maroon Toyota Corolla and headed back home to Longmont.
It was nearing midnight when we arrived at our apartment. We were to have a church pot-luck the following day so Natalie decided to go to the nearby grocery store to pick up some last minute items. Nehemiah went to bed and I stayed home to ready the baby for bed.
Shortly after midnight Natalie left to the store. I went to bed with my baby right beside me.
At about 3:00 am Sunday morning my daughter woke me up as babies are likely to do. I came to the realization that Natalie was not at home. I went outside to see if her car was in the parking spot only to find its absence.
I called some friends and family to ask if they had seen or heard from her. No one had seen or heard from her since the previous day.
As a result of my phone calls my brother came to my apartment as did a family friend and his wife.
By that time it was about 3:45 am. I had always heard that police would not act on a report for a missing person until they’d been missing for at least 24 hours. Fearing who-knows-what I placed a 9-1-1 call to report Natalie missing in spite of the no-action-until-after-24-hours presumption.
The 9-1-1 dispatcher told me that they usually won’t act until a party has been missing for at least 24 hours. The dispatcher also tried to calm my worries by suggesting that maybe she had gone for a drink or to hang out with friends. I knew that such an occurrence would never happen with Natalie and I insisted that a cop be sent out to do something.
In the meantime my brother came to my place. I told him she had gone to the grocery store. He then went to the nearest one and quickly called me to tell me that her car was in the parking lot there.
When a friend and his wife arrived at my apartment I left with him to the grocery store. His wife stayed to watch my daughter.
While all of this was taking place, in my state of near panic, I never thought to awaken Nehemiah.
I got to the grocery store parking lot. A few minutes later a uniformed police officer showed up. Natalie’s car was there and the officer told me to go ahead and take the car home.
Neither then nor now have I been an expert in missing person’s investigations, but I knew better than to touch the car, enter it, or move it. I left the car untouched.
Eventually another cop showed up to keep an eye on the car. I left with the first cop to be interviewed by him at the police station. He called his questions “routine questions”. “Were the two of you fighting?” “Was she angry?”, just a couple of examples.
I left the police station to go back home. I got home at about 6:00 am. Shortly thereafter the cop who interviewed me picked me up to go with him to the grocery store to review camera footage of customers coming in and out of the store around midnight. No one matched Natalie’s description.
Once again I was allowed to go home where I was greeted by a lot of my friends and family. Everyone there exuded large amounts of nervous energy and made themselves busy by doing household chores; dishes, laundry, etc.
It was maybe 10:00 am when a cop I had not met came to my door to tell me that I had to evacuate my home. I later learned that I could have opted out of his order to leave. I was directed to pack enough necessities to be gone for a few days as the police were to search my apartment for any evidence that might indicate what may have happened to Natalie.
Leaving the apartment I took my daughter and went with my brother to his home. I spent the rest of the day with my mind racing, trying to get some rest.
At approximately 5:30 pm a phone call came in directing me to go to the police station. I complied and was greeted by Detectives Slawson (Longmont Police) and Ainsworth (Boulder County Sheriff’s Office). I sat through another “routine interview” after which Det. Slawson tells me that my wife had been located and that she was dead.
Immediately upon giving me that news Slawson and Ainsworth began treating me as a suspect and kept me isolated. My rights were read to me in a way I had never heard of before or since. Det. Slawson told me I really didn’t have the right to an attorney until I’d been charged with a crime.
My friends and family had all gone to the station to support me. As I was isolated I was only allowed to communicate via a note to be given to my mother to call a lawyer for me. My attorney, Mr. Larson, arrived sometime around 10:00 pm.
While awaiting my lawyer’s arrival photos were taken of my face, arms, and hands. My left hand had a cut at the base of the thumb. Several photos were taken of this cut.
I also underwent a “voice stress analyzer” that was supposed to detect the veracity of answers to questions asked by the administrator of the test. Those questions included, “Did you kill Natalie?” and “Is your name Matthew Mirabal?” The outcome of the test was never disclosed to me but I imagine there must have been stress detected in my voice.
At about 11:00 pm a warrant came in for me to go to the hospital to have a doctor scrape my fingernails and photograph my body.
This was late Sunday evening, September 26th. I was not yet informed about the condition of Natalie’s body.
On Tuesday or Wednesday (9/29 or 9/30) I was again summoned to the police station. Det. Slawson and Det. Ainsworth as well as other police personnel unknown to me were present. It was then that the condition of Natalie’s body was disclosed to me.
Her body was found in a clearing of a wooded area north of Boulder called Left Hand Canyon. She had been strangled and decapitated. The decapitation took place after death. There was no indication of sexual assault. She had wounds on the back of her head consistent with blunt force trauma. Her face was bruised as if punched repeatedly.
Detective Ainsworth was the lead detective in the case. During trial when asked if he had evidence of the defendant at the crime scene, he said he had none. He could not put me at the scene.
Tire track impressions indicated that Natalie’s car had been there. Natalie’s purse and its contents were found scattered along the roadside on the north end of Boulder. As indicated earlier in this narrative, her car was located at the Safeway grocery store near our home.
It was a day or so after I was informed about Natalie’s body that her funeral was held. I think it must have been the 30th of September. I believe it was that same day I was allowed to re-enter my apartment.
The next few weeks were spent in suspense of what to expect next. I had been treated as a suspect. I knew then and I know now that I did not kill Natalie nor did I have knowledge of her killer or her killer’s motives. So I waited and expected to be cleared. I expected the cops to investigate and find her killer. I expected justice because after all, this is the land of the free and the home of the brave. In America people are not unfairly targeted. People don’t get arrested, charged and convicted for crimes they don’t commit.
That’s what I used to think. Maybe all of that is usually the truth. Maybe cops really do want to “get the guy who really did it”. Maybe their motives and intentions are pure and honest. Maybe, just maybe, in their honesty and pureness of intention they focus in on the wrong suspect with such laser-like focus that they lose sight of the bigger picture, ignoring leads that point elsewhere.
I don’t know the exact number, but statistics say that more often than not, when a woman is murdered the murder is committed by a spouse or boyfriend. Could it be that the raw data is relied upon too often and that the conviction rate of such murders differs from the reality of who actually committed said murders?
It is of high importance to prosecutors and police that suspects are arrested and convictions secured. It is often of far less importance that justice is carried out. The facts and the evidence matter less than what a jury can be made to believe.
People want justice. They do not want crimes to go unpunished. It is common that the average person who has not had a negative experience with police to have faith in police work and to believe that in this great country no one but the guilty are ever arrested, charged and convicted.
On October 22, 1999, nearly a month after my wife’s body was found, Det. Ainsworth came to the door of my brother’s home where I was staying. He placed me under arrest for the murder of my wife.
[After my arrest…] I sat in the county jail awaiting trial, which took place in June of 2000. The evidence presented at trial was all circumstantial. When each piece of evidence is examined each piece by itself equals zero when placed in the equation whose outcome is murder. When added all together, zero added to zero ten times or a million times still equals a grand total of zero.
By now you must be wondering what it was that the prosecution presented to the jury that would yield a guilty verdict. I’ll get to that. What I’ll present here for you are my true explanations for the evidence. For some of it I had no explanation at the time of the trial. In the last several months some things have surfaced that answer some questions that have persisted.
When a defendant takes the stand on his own defense at trial the prosecution can bring up just about any issue against him that otherwise might go unheard by the jury. Prosecutors are skilled at twisting a witness’s or defendant’s words. It is a skill set necessary to their profession. In light of these facts defense attorneys are more than likely to advise their clients to not take the stand. Such was the case for me. I see now that by not taking the witness stand the picture painted for the jury was incomplete and it erroneously favored the prosecution’s case.
At trial I was 21 years old. I had had no experience with the criminal justice system. I followed the advice of my lawyers. They too are only human making them prone to mistakes.
My mistakes have been numerous, and epic. I am not now nor have I ever been a saint. Prior to my incarceration I called myself a Christian. I attended church and even attempted to live up to the ideals of such a lifestyle. Too many times I failed. Most of my supporters then were those I knew from church. They who supported me were questioned by police about me ad nauseum. Tired of answering the same old questions they began to refuse to be questioned by police any further. In answer to this the police and prosecution began to slander the church members by calling my friends a cult likening them to the Branch Dividians from Waco, Texas circa 1992.
Skeletons still lurked in my closet. I was guilty of being a horrible husband and a despicable brother. In January of 1999, an affair began between the wife of my brother and myself. According to prosecutors, said affair was part of the motive in the criminal case against me. It was definitely indicative of weaknesses in my character but not evidence of murder.
(Part of the evidence used against Matthew was a life insurance policy for Natalie that was taken out during the summer before she was killed. The prosecution claimed that Matthew took out this policy for his wife and that he initially applied for a much larger policy than was granted. Matt addresses that life insurance policy here…)
My daughter was born in the spring of 1999. Natalie took care of all paperwork pertaining to my daughter’s birth. I signed whatever she told me I needed to sign. Usually I didn’t even read what I signed. Natalie said I had to sign this line or that on this or that line and that is what I did, feeling as if she had it under control.
With the birth of our daughter we discussed the need for life insurance. It would have been something Natalie took care of. It was my understanding that a life insurance company sent us a quote for insurance for both Natalie and myself. It is also my understanding that a physical is required of anyone who attempts to be insured. I never did take a physical exam but as it turns out Natalie did. My signature was on some insurance paperwork. While I was awaiting trial a letter was discovered indicating that the insurance company had not received all the necessary paperwork for coverage to begin. I’m still confused about this because there was an appreciable sum paid by the life insurance company with my daughter as the beneficiary. Life insurance is purchased by thousands of Americans. It is not illegal to have life insurance nor is its existence evidence of murder.
Natalie’s red Toyota Corolla became the focal point of the whole investigation. Most of the physical evidence from the trial came from the car.
The car was at the crime scene at Left Hand Canyon. This fact is incontrovertible. When referring to the “crime scene” I’m speaking of the place where Natalie’s body was found. It was often stated by the prosecution that the actual location where Natalie was killed is unknown.
In the trunk of the car there was an assortment of clothes, most notably a pair of black B.D.U. style pants. On said pants were blood stains. The blood belonged to Natalie as if her killer had her blood on his hands when he examined the clothes in the trunk.
In the front floor board of the car were a pair of brown jersey gloves. They had been used by Natalie’s killer in the commission of the crime.
A day or so prior to Natalie’s death I put on a pair of brown jersey gloves in the early morning chill when I arrived at work. In order to open a new five-gallon paint bucket there are markers around the lid’s perimeter. At each of these markers a slit is to be cut in order to unseal the bucket. A utility knife is ever present with a painter while at work. It is useful for countless tasks one of which is to open a five-gallon bucket. There are a few ways to accomplish this task – I, on this particular occasion, placed my left hand over the spot where the slit was to be made in order to stabilize the bucket. With the utility blade in my right hand, sharp side up, I cut upward slicing through the plastic bucket lid and cutting into my left hand at the base of the thumb. Removing the gloves I left them in my truck as I taped up the wound with a piece of a rag and painter’s tape.
The next morning I had my gloves in hand when I started Natalie’s car. I sat in her car waiting for her while her engine ran. When she came out a few minutes later I exited her car and absentmindedly left my brown jersey gloves in her car. They were the brown jersey gloves I had on when I cut my hand opening a paint bucket. Naturally there was a cut in the left glove that corresponded with the cut on my hand with the presence of my blood in that spot.
The gloves were in her car when her killer took her to Left Hand Canyon and took her life. The gloves were worn by her killer or used to wipe her blood off of himself.
The steering wheel and gear shifter knob lacked the presence of blood. The prosecution claimed that I must have cut my hand while committing Natalie’s murder. There was the presence of Natalie’s blood on her ankles as if her killer had grabbed her to drag her body. My blood was not present as it would have been if the prosecutor’s claims of my self injury during her murder were true and correct. Also my blood would have been present on the steering wheel and/or door handles had I been driving with a fresh cut on my left hand.
As I write this it is August 2015. In November 2014 I was contacted by a writer for The Denver Post requesting an interview. During the interview, I was told that a letter came to the Denver Post from a man in prison who said he killed a woman in Boulder County in September of 1999. I was further informed that the only murder in that month of that year in that county was Natalie’s. A murder I did not commit.
The person who wrote to the Denver Post with his confession is named Richard Barbee. I had my family retain an attorney to interview Barbee. Barbee told my attorney he did it and described a lifestyle of heavy drinking and drug use that led up to the day Natalie was killed.
Over fifteen years have passed since the day of her death. The passage of time coupled with an obviously questionable state of mind have undoubtedly played tricks on Barbee’s memory of the details of those acts he committed.
At the crime scene at Left Hand Canyon a portion of a redwood 2”x 2” was collected. After examination it was determined that it was a match for a piece of a redwood 2”x 2” found in my truck. No tire track impressions that were a match for my truck were found at the crime scene.
In his notarized confession Mr. Barbee described looking in the bed of my ’73 Ford pickup for anything worth stealing. Continuing his search, a woman’s voice hollered out asking him why he was in a truck she knew not to be his.
Fueled by paranoia and dope Barbee acted irrationally by attacking the woman. He forced her into her car and made her drive, armed with a 2” x 2” piece of redwood he found in the truck and a large knife.
Barbee said the woman drove by a grocery store saying that was her destination and begged him to set her free. She continued to scream and he just wanted to shut her up. Her incessant screaming began to wear on him. He knew he’d gone way too far to just let her go and walk away from the incident peacefully.
Arriving at a clearing in a wooded area she stopped the car and made a run for it. Being short in stature and wearing a skirt Barbee easily ran her down. He swung the piece of redwood at her making a solid connection with the back of her head. She fell to the ground in silence which scared her attacker to carry out her murder. She was then strangled until her last breath was drawn.
Earlier while in the car Barbee came across a pair of gloves in the center console and put them on to avoid leaving fingerprints. They remained on his hands through the attack.
Not hearing any sound from his victim and seeing no sign of movement it seemed logical to Barbee to cut her into pieces to dispose of her.
He rummaged through the trunk of her car in search of something to wrap her headless body. Finding nothing suitable he drug her remains into some nearby bushes.
At the crime scene Barbee smoked a cigarette or two then drove away. Not being familiar with the area he ended up in Boulder and asked for directions to Longmont. Arriving into Longmont he knew not how to find the place he had been staying.
The group of people with whom he had been partying were mere acquaintances he met after drifting into town. He believed his presence from their festivities would not be missed.
A grocery store was a beacon in the night he did recognize. He parked the dark red car and left on foot from the parking lot.
At around 1:00 am on the night in question a young lady arrived at the grocery store. She was an off-duty employee of that particular Safeway supermarket. She was seen entering the store on surveillance camera footage. Upon entering the store she recalled seeing a car that matched the description of Natalie’s Toyota. If it were indeed Natalie’s car then the entire scenario might have taken about an hour to occur.
As stated previously, I had an infant daughter and a teenaged brother-in-law living in my home. I would have had to have taken my daughter with me had I committed Natalie’s murder. I would then have had to walk back to my residence at about 1:00 am carrying my daughter from the grocery store parking lot.
The alternative would have been to have left her in our apartment risking her awakening at some point which would have resulted in awakening my brother-in-law.
After trial and conviction I was sentenced to life without parole in the Department of Corrections. I was 21 years old when I ended up in prison. I had had no prior felonies and nearly zero contact with police in my lifetime.
Shortly after my arrival at my first facility I met an older convict who claimed to know who I was and also knew about the crime for which I had been convicted. He told me that he was also from Boulder County and claimed to know that I was not the person who killed my wife. According to him he had been out of prison at the time Natalie was killed.
The story he told me was that while hanging out with friends one night a man he knew arrived at the house he was at and claimed to have just murdered a girl. He said he knew who it was and was willing to talk to my attorney about it.
I was somewhat skeptical of his tale but felt that I had to look into every possible suspect that might exonerate me.
As it turned out this older convict, I’ll call Steve, was blowing smoke in order to work some kind of angle to extort money from me as he was in debt that he was unable to pay. Steve realized that I had to have proof that he was telling me the truth about Natalie’s death.
It is not uncommon for older more seasoned convicts to at least attempt to manipulate a person who’s new to prison, a newby who can be spotted from a mile away. It is also not uncommon for a convict of any age to get in debt over his head and desperately seek a way to discharge that debt.
In an act of desperation Steve went to the prison staff to get moved out of the unit he then lived in or get moved out of the facility. In prison slang this is referred to as “checking-in” and is very heavily frowned upon by prison inmates. Before staff will accommodate a check-in they need to know why an inmate is choosing to venture down said avenue. The would-be check-in must then explain why and, by law, staff must accommodate him if they feel like he might be in danger of any kind.
Steve told prison staff that “Matthew Mirabal was putting pressure on him to frame someone for the murder of his wife.”
Initially, Steve spoke to my lawyer and said he knew I was innocent and he knew who killed Natalie. He later refused further interviews with my attorney and was moved to another section of the prison where I never saw him again. This took place in early 2001.
In January of 2011 I was moved to Limon Correctional Facility where I remain presently. I began to work in the facility’s kitchen shortly after my arrival. Eventually part of my duties were to prepare snacks for inmates who had a medical need for food in excess of what is served to the average inmate. About ten percent of the prison population receive supplemental snacks.
It is typical for most inmates to be placed in a living unit and remain there for months or even years. When preparing snacks I grew accustomed to seeing the names of inmates who received them. Richard Barbee was one of those names.
Prior to my attorney interviewing Barbee I could not have picked him out of a crowd. I asked around about him and had him pointed out. He is housed at Limon Correctional Facility.
According to a document filed by the prosecution, pursuant to my filing of a motion requesting a new trial, Mr. Barbee has not been at the same facility as I until he was moved to Limon in November of 2011. According to the same document Mr. Barbee and I were in the same living unit (each unit houses about 150 inmates) from December 23, 2011 until January 13, 2012 [approximately 3 weeks] at which time I was moved progressively to another living unit. At that point in time I had no idea who Richard Barbee was.
In this facility, which is made up of six living units, Units 1, 2 and 3 do not intermingle with Units 4, 5 and 6. I am currently a resident of Unit 5, which has been the case since January 13, 2012. Mr. Barbee is currently a resident of either Unit 1,2 or 3.
Limon Correctional Facility is a high security level prison. There is not a location inside these fences where an inmate can go that he is not on camera. One reason the judge denied a motion for new trial based on Barbee’s confession is that we are both housed at this prison. If there were a time when I spoke to Mr. Barbee the prison’s video surveillance system would have captured that footage. That footage does not exist.
Prison staff became aware of Mr. Barbee’s confession as news of it was made public in The Denver Post – Colorado’s largest newspaper. After Boulder County Detectives became aware, they were presented with a piece of paper found in Mr. Barbee’s cell (also an attachment to the prosecution’s response to my motion) that was a somewhat detailed account of Natalie’s murder and days leading up to and following her death. The writing concludes with, “This is added proof I was in CO.”
I can only assume, based on the contents of that writing that it was a note kept by Barbee in an attempt to refresh his memory of the events described therein. Even an untrained individual might be able to make such a determination if they had something to compare it to.
The presence of the “note” I just described was also instrumental in the denial of my motion for a new trial. No due diligence was made in determining the note’s origin.
Limon Correctional Facility houses nearly one thousand inmates. A large percentage of them are in prison for violent crimes and are serving lengthy sentences. Such is the nature of this prison. Most of the inmates in this prison I have never met and therefore do not know them, including Mr. Barbee.
Mr. Barbee gave a detailed confession to my attorney. He had a note that he wrote to himself that was found in his cell. He was also interviewed by Detective Ainsworth (Boulder County). All three accounts varied to some degree. The length of Barbee’s knife lengthened or shortened, a 2 x 2 was called a 2 x 4, and there was a difference in age and material the gloves were made of from new, jersey gloves to worn leather. The commonalities were that a short Hispanic woman in Boulder County was kidnapped, strangled and decapitated in the fall of 1999.
As time wears on, details often fall away from memories and in an attempt to paint a clearer picture to ourselves we tend to at least try to fill in the gaps left behind by memory’s retreat. Sometimes we fill those gaps in incorrectly. In Barbee’s case, he has attempted to retrieve memories from a time when his brain swam in a soup of any manner of illicit drugs and alcohol along with extended periods of sleeplessness.
Had there been an inclination on my part to concoct the scheme the prosecutors, cops and judge believe has taken place, would not the account told by Mr. Barbee be accurate and correct down to the minutest of details? Had Mr. Barbee had total and perfect recall, that too would have raised suspicion as whether or not a person could remember, with laser precision, the minutest details form long ago and from being under the influence of any intoxicants.
The fact that Mr. Barbee has omitted, added, changed or embellished details is only proof of the fallibility of his, and the memory of all mankind.
Mr. Barbee is a man who – from what was printed in The Denver Post – is suffering from a terminal illness. The existence of his illness also raised suspicion, questioning the validity of his confession. It seems reasonable that one’s literal or metaphorical deathbed serves as the appropriate platform for a confession of one’s transgressions.
Detective Ainsworth was the lead investigator in my case. I don’t necessarily feel that he has a personal vendetta against me or that there was ever some grand conspiracy to convict me for Natalie’s murder. I do not believe he is an evil man or even a bad cop. I do believe, at least in regard to my case, that he conducted his duties already believing that it was I who killed Natalie and made every effort to prove his beliefs to be correct. Even some of the most brilliant minds that ever existed held firmly to beliefs that eventually were disproven.
Sir Isaac Newton thought that time was separate from space and was considered to be a single line stretching infinitely in both directions. His model was accepted by the scientific community for well over 200 years until a little fellow by the name of Einstein came up with the theory that time and space are inextricably connected. Einstein’s theory of relativity has proven that space can be curved involving time as well.
If Sir Isaac Newton can get something wrong then surely Detective Ainsworth can as well.
Mr. Barbee is a man I do not know. I seems that his conscience has gotten the better of him and he has made attempts to rectify his misdeeds. I can only hope that Detective Ainsworth can be a man of reason and come to the conclusion that his admission of erroneously working to convict me would not detract from him as a cop or as a man. But if all law enforcement officials could learn to do just that it might play a part in beginning to reverse the growing trend of disdain for cops in this country. Our country, our police officers and the wrongfully convicted could do well with a large dose of that medicine right now, and for all our posterity.
DNA In Matthew’s Case
In most cases where DNA is present it is considered the smoking gun to secure a conviction. Since crime shows have become ubiquitous on prime time television, new challenges have surfaced for prosecutors as jurors have had a tendency to expect real-life to more closely mimic the fiction of CSI, in which the minutest particle of biological material is somehow collected from a mountain of evidence and then linked to the perpetrator. It’s clear that “Hollywood science” has surpassed real-world science. The expectations of jurors cannot be met by what is presented at trial.
In my case, the collected evidence that was consistent with my DNA profile would all have been present even if a murder had not taken place. There was no evidence of me or my presence at the crime scene, so the evidence of my presence was collected from Natalie’s car, which was also kind of mine, and from my residence where I lived with her.
DNA from a third party in the form of head hairs was found in the car. To this day, the source of those head hairs has yet to be determined. My most recent attorney contacted the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in an attempt to have a comparison made between those head hairs and Mr. Barbee’s DNA profile. In response, CBI indicated that their database has been upgraded and that their database does not currently have any evidence pertaining to my case. Therefore the request to make a comparison between Mr. Barbee’s DNA and that from my case was denied.
There is necessarily no guarantee of the transfer of DNA when a presence of body fluids of some kind is not detected. In the absence of body fluids, what remains would be skin cells and hair. If hair and/or skin cells are all that an assailant deposits then the likelihood of their discovery comes into question.
By now Natalie’s car is long gone. It cannot be re-examined. It is possible and likely that investigators focused on me as the main suspect so intently as to wear blinders to evidence that could have and would have now implicated Mr. Barbee. If the investigation were more thorough than I believe it to have been then the outcome of my first trial would possibly have yielded a verdict of not guilty. There were no fingerprints (mine or anyone else’s) on surfaces of the car where there should have been. A cigarette butt that appeared in a photo of a footprint from the scene where Natalie’s body was found was not collected and not tested for biological material (investigators knew I did not smoke). It was shown that the footprint itself was not mine. Any lack of DNA ought to be attributed to a shortcoming in the collection of evidence and not necessarily to the lack of proof of an assailant, or who that assailant might be.