I had the pleasure of meeting this young man in prison, and this is his story
January, 2005, is when I met my girlfriend. She was employed at an assistant living home as a medical technician. Her hair was long, pulled back in two French braids, blonde, and curly. Her eyes were the type that changed between blue and green depending on the season, which only complemented her petite 120lb, 5'7'' frame. We only greeted each other that initial meeting, but it was enough to have me wonder for days to come.
We later began to speak when her number was provided by a close friend. This same friend mothered my two children and with whom I had a relationship for six years. She was a woman of great sensibility, understanding, and composure. She was far than I deserved.
My girlfriend and I began interacting more frequently through discussion, primarily text. She was fascinating, to discover our similarities didn't require much time. We were both raised in the types of areas that didn't find poverty unusual, there wasn't much wealth, unstable homes that required frequent relocation were common, and while we both experienced different family issues, the same amount of dysfunction was present. To me, our commonalities were shared on a deeper plain than simple superficial interests.
A few months passed before I made a visit for her birthday. We spent that night together for the first time. I've never felt that degree of anxiety in my entire life. My objective was not to simply impress her, but to captivate her. I entered her house with all the confidence of an alpha, which immediately shattered when I saw her. She was gorgeous, far better than me; I found myself shy and reserved. Nervous would be the proper term. But some how, I rediscovered my confidence and did my best to present to her an unforgettable night. We enjoyed each other physically for the first time that evening ending the night together along side on another. She and I continued our relationship in private, enjoying each other through text messages, phone calls, and visits. Her smile was my motivation, and I found myself thinking only of that smile. She was perfect to me, a perception that has yet to change.
Three months past, March, 2005; there was an abrupt absence of texts messages, which convinced me that something was wrong. We traded short comments to begin the day, early in the afternoon her messages stopped. I sent her messages inquiring about her whereabouts. Three or four hours elapsed before her response was received. The message was short and vague. She informed me later that day she was the victim of a physical assault. The news was sudden; I was confused but mostly angry. How she felt was practically incomprehensible. I couldn't understand what she was feeling. I could only understand how I thought she should have felt. We spoke later that night about the incident. She provided the details in the best capacity possible, obviously she remained distraught about the matter, assuring me she just wanted to forget.
As an introvert a great amount of my time is allotted to introspection. I learned quickly that without anchors my mind can become quagmired in a series of iterations of the particulars of a situation. The issue is pondered, repeated, and analyzed. Each iteration develops into something more than the previous iteration. It becomes more detailed, more elaborate, more,....emotionally compromising. The emotion intensifies, becomes more perverse. Unfortunately, the emotion that began to toxify was rage in respect to this particular situation. There are triggers for this psychological complex, which in this case was her desire to forget.
My mind burned, I was confused, angry, hurt. But I was aware, before all else, that it was how she felt that mattered. The current situation wasn't about me, it was about her, and my place was to provide support. However, emotional immaturity made it very difficult to do anything but rage. I was incapable of understanding how someone could commit such an offense. The idea of an individual imposing himself upon a woman physically inferior angered me. The victimization of another made me furious, the scenario continued to re-enact itself in my mind, growing, developing, becoming something that seemed to germinate and suffocate every other thought until that thought was all that remained. This resulted in me making a situation about another into a situation about me.
My brother was in town for the weekend. Biologically were were born to different parents, but our relationship was much more profound than simply "Friends". We shared similarities that only brothers would share, and deep within me knows those similarities are why I sought him. It was a Friday morning when I visited his house and explained the situation. He listened, and thought, as my brother always did. My brother is a poet, able to comprehend and articulate all ideas concisely. He is far more intelligent than I, but was still immature himself at the time, and therefore, unable to express his true potential for rational thought. Unfortunately, this exposed him to the folly of making poor decisions. I was no different.
There were many influences that contributed to my decision to commit my crime. Some influences were greater than others, many influences were internal while others were external. Regardless, it is neither the amount nor magnitude of influences that determine our choices in life, no matter the significance or insignificance. Decisions are our own, based on how well an individual is in tune with morality. An individual's understanding of higher virtues and how well that individual expresses that understanding places one on the right path to make better decision to further himself in life. However, that particular night, any significant connection to higher virtues were severed, and anything that remained was simply a distorted perversion of what I thought was right.
My intent that night was to frighten, to deliver a warning. I felt justified, for one initiatory action creates a retaliatory reaction. Six improvised incendiary device were manufactured; commonly referred to as Molotov Cocktails. Molotov Cocktails have no other purpose than to destroy, which was required for my intended purpose that night. Two .22 caliber pistols were also employed, used to discharge into the residence. Late in the evening, I traveled to the house of alleged assailant, along with my brother and others. Exiting my vehicle, all six Molotov cocktails were ignited, instantly everything illuminated. The residence, the vehicle, the terrain, all ablaze. We brought day light to the night. There were gunshots behind me, multiple bullets entered the home. We left the area as quickly as we arrived.
The reaction came quickly, newspaper articles, brief stints on the local news, public conversations, detective interrogations, all the usual responses. The authorities had me in custody not four days after the offense. Others provided multiple statement of what occurred, our roles in the offense, who manufactured what, and finer details such as what was said during the night. Certain accounts were slightly exaggerated, while others were blatant lies, but in the end the detectives had all they needed for their conviction.
Shortly after arrest, I satisfied a $150,000 bond. During my eleven months on bond my life systematically deteriorated. I experienced bouts of depression, anxiety, paranoia. The mother of my children left me, which she had every right to do, my home was destroyed, casualty of my temper, and my girlfriend felt I ruined her life by attracting unwanted attention to her situation. Material possessions never had much value to me, with the exception of a Ford Escort that always seemed to survive some drunken form of abuse through which I put it. Life, at this point, was one poor decision after another, which continued for my time bonded until I found myself homeless, living in the back seat of my Escort, alternating between Wal-Mart, K-Mart, and Mall parking lots.
My last two months of freedom found me with nothing, my Ford was gone, broken axel, caused by too much alcohol, no residence, waiting trial. I did, however, have the pleasure of spending one more night with my girlfriend prior to my Federal Indictment, which arrived four days after that night. She seemed to be in good place at that time, and I decided to refrain from discussing my misfortune. The details of that night remains more vivid to me now then the initial portion of my incarceration. I was happy to spend my remaining days near her.
February, 2006, the Federal Government issued a four count indictment. I was placed in custody February 10th. The proceedings were text book, arraignment, plea agreement, sentencing. I received a 268 month prison term. The courts found that based on a codefendants statement that my intent the night of the crime was to murder. For this, the courts found a cross reference to first degree attempted murder applicable. This provided the majority of my time.
For the most part, Prison is an experience equal to that of high school, it's a popularity contest; shallow and superficial. However, for those searching to improve themselves it can be an enlightening experience. Prison is where I began to be become aware of my values; it is where I have become more in tune with my virtues. By defining my virtues, I began to understand them, which allowed me to become an improved representation of them. My character is what defines me, not my poor decisions. With the time that I have vested over the years, I have acquired diploma's, certifications, and trades, that best reflect who I am, and emphasize my strengths in order to provide a successful future for me. Even though my greatest achievements have been made in prison, those same achievements are no less significant to those which were made during my freedom. I have used my time, not wasted it. My time has worked for me, not against me. And that is credited to a strong character and determination required to prevail this environment. I am neither proud nor ashamed of my incarceration, I identify it as another challenge in a life full of many, for it's the challenges in life that substantiate the success. The greater the challenge, the greater the sense of satisfaction. My philosophy has directed me accept that life is easy, but to live, that is hard. To live, is to experience, to experience is to be brave. I welcome, now, new experiences and challenges. To achieve within my own standards is true success, it is something in which to be proud.