Posts Tagged ‘life in prison without parole’

This video is the first in a series of videos to get to know Nathan Ybanez and Erik Jensen. They were sentenced as juveniles 16 and 17, to life in prison without parole. Nathan killed his mother after years of sexual, mental, emotional and physical abuse. Erik helped clean up the crime scene. The Supreme Court recently determined that it is not right to sentence juveniles to life in prison without parole based on overwhelming evidence that the juvenile mind does not fully develop until about 25 years of age. significant and overwhelming studies show that once a juvenile has been convicted of a serious crime including murder, and has served juvenile time, they almost never commit another serious crime.

See the video by clicking on the link below:

Nathan Ybanez and Mary Grodin have helped save each other. Nathan has been behind bars for 14 years serving an unjust sentence of life in prison without parole. This voice message from Mary to Nathan proves that love and hope can penetrate barbed wire and stone fences. Nathan has demonstrated that love and hope given helps magnify it in the givers soul.

Click on the link below to hear Mary’s message of hope and love to Nathan.


Nathan Ybanez has spent the last 14 years of his life locked up behind bars in Colorado. He was sentenced to life in prison for a crime he committed at the age of 16. Most say his crime was responding to life of abuse.

Click on the link below to hear Nathan’s special message to his special friend, Mary Grodin.


There was a story in Rolling Stone Magazine several years ago that was read by young lady by the name of Mary Grodin.


Mary Grodin, an attractive thirty year old woman from Fort Myers, Florida, a long time subscriber to Rolling Stone, read the December 12, 2008 Rolling Stone Article, “Can Nate Ybanez Ever Be Forgiven?”

She was born to an alcoholic mother in 1977 in Arizona. Her life started out on a bad note when she was born because her mother resented the fact that she looked like her father. When she was reading the article it “chocked her up, it filled her eyes up with tears.” Similar things had happened to her so she felt compelled to reach out to Nathan so she wrote to him at Sterling Prison. Her letter started off, My name is Mary and you don’t know me yet.” She told him in that first letter, “No matter what they say about you in court, no matter how much they try to tear you down, just look past them, let their garbage flow past you.” She told him, “it is very easy to lose your identity in an abusive relationship, especially in the system.” She now talks to him every week.

Mary is very proud of how Nathan has taken hold of his spirituality, “He is a beautifully person.” Mary said that Nathan told her there are three things he loved about his mother, One, she had a great smile, two, sometimes she defended him and three, she got him his golden retriever, Cleo. He told her there three things he liked about his dad; one, he was an individual, two, he was strong, and he was tough. Mary found it admirable that out of all the bad things he could remember about his parents he chooses to remember and hold on to some good things. Through conversations with Nathan she said that she had been able to see that his mom was a sick and unstable, controlling kind of Christian fanatic. “She tended to use her religion as a shield, almost like a cover.” She immediately identified with the sexual, mental and physical abuse he suffered. She was raped by her uncle that she was forced to live with her aunt and uncle. She ran away from home shortly after the abuse at the age of thirteen when she confronted her aunt and uncle and they laughed at her. She said she understood how paralyzing and traumatizing this type of abuse could be. She fell into the arms of a thirty-year-old man who was fifteen years older than her. Her safety net turned out to be a daily cycle of physical and mental abuse. It was a constant routine of him abusing her. She would run for the phone and he would rip it out of the wall. Things were okay for her as long as she did not try to make any new friends, learn to drive, further her education, anything that would remotely smack of being independent from her codependency on this chump.

Mary said that when she met Nathan she had been wounded and it was like he ripped the band aid off of her wounded soul, it hurt but it started her healing process, she said, “He helped me so much.” She felt pain for Nathan, Mary had known extreme abuse. Her last lover, Justin Grodin, talked her into marrying him, telling her that if they got married things would get better. The day she was married he beat her to where she was not recognizable. He murdered her eleven month old daughter and is currently serving life plus thirty years in prison. He had been arrested off and on because he physically abused Mary, sometimes to the point where her face was unrecognizable because of the bruises. She originally thought he was safe since he was friends with her brother. One day he and her brother came over to her house on their way to have pizza with one of his friends Justin Grodin. She declined because she knew what the consequences would be from her lover. He said, “What are you a prisoner to this house?” This question really resonated with her. She said to herself, “Wow I am really a prisoner to this house, to this man.” She didn’t go that night but it made her gain a little level of trust with him, “Wow somebody sees, someone understands.”

She said, “The biggest thing about being abused is you run, you take off running from the situation, the fear of telling anyone is so strong, it is like you think people should look in your eyes and know, like telepathy, but it doesn’t happen that way. It’s like being paralyzed with fear.” He helped her get away from her first lover that was a control freak. Justin helped her get a restraining order on her older lover. She thought “Wow this guy is cool, he is helping me with things.” Her Aunt Rosalie was dying of cancer and he took her to see her. She said, “Wow, I couldn’t drive and he’s really supportive.” Then he said he would stay over and make sure Derrick, the guy that was 15 years her senior, didn’t come back and bother her. Mary thought, “Oh, he’s protecting me.” He ending up not leaving. Then he came up with the idea that he would pay half the rent. Mary thought, “Oh wow, he’s going to help me and I don’t have to worry about the rent.” When it came time for the rent she asked him if he had the money, he said “I don’t think you should live in a place where your Ex is at. He might try to hurt you or something.” He had this wonderful idea of moving to Los Angeles. “He talked me into moving to Los Angeles. When I got to Los Angeles, he had absolutely no money, so he drove me to the welfare office. I was eighteen at the time, I had my son Murphy, two years old (he is now eighteen) with me. I got a hotel room. That is when the heavy abuse started. I had no one to run to. I was in Los Angeles for two months max. I was able to get away with the help of the police. One day he smashed my face against the bars on the windows of our hotel. ” She was able to go back to Arizona where she grew up. She wasn’t able to get away from him because he was using her son Murphy to control her. One day he took her son Murphy and left the house with him as she was screaming repeatedly, “Give me back my son.” He had taken her two year old son, threw him in the front seat of the car, without a seat belt and took off with him. Mary, in her bare feet took off chasing his car, into traffic, screaming and screaming. He ran into a stop light. Mary caught up with his car and was pounding on the windows, “Give me my son, give me my son.” She was finally able to put her son through the car’s window. As she was pulling her son through the car’s window the police showed up. Mary’s face was covered in bruises as she told the police the Justin had kidnapped her son.

She called her mom, who was estranged from Mary at the time, but she helped Mary and Murphy get back to Arizona. Justin ended up contacting Mary again and said, “Everything would be fine, if they got married. He was just afraid of losing her.” He told her if they got married everything would be fine. The situation Mary was in was terrible so she trusted what Justin said and agreed to marry him. They got married and it was not any better. The night they got married he beat her into an unrecognizable state. The abuse continued to the point that a week after they were married he ran her over with his car. He was arrested for these abuses. It was a continual cycle of abuse but Mary kept going back to Jason because she felt alone in the world, with no place to turn. She knew what it was like to be in a paralyzing situation. She remembered that Justin was the one beating her, but he was the only person that she had. Like in Nathan’s case the person that was supposed to protect her from monsters was her monster. Nathan’s mom and dad were supposed to protect him from his monsters but because his monsters. She said one of the scariest things about being abused was how alone she felt in the situation. She was amazed that people could not see it written all over her that she was being abused. She has cried often for Nathan knowing how trapped he felt in his own situation with nowhere to turn. She ended up going to Florida when her husband’s parents offered to help them. When she got there she found out they were just afraid of him as she was. She said being abused was like being in prison.

She said that Nathan was in prison long before he was incarcerated. In her opinion, the prison that Nathan endured before he was incarcerated was probably worst than actually being behind because he had to live with deep dark secrets.

Life is going good for Mary right now, living in Florida with Steve Tallow, PhD, a licensed psychologist and his wife. She is not in a relationship now, she is doing paralegal consulting, she is volunteering as an advocate for people in abusive situations, and she is treasuring life one day at a time. Her son Murphy, a grown man of eighteen lives in Arizona. He just bought a new car and is enjoying being an 18 year old. In Mary’s weekly forty minute phone call they talk about music, his new spiritual practices, his meditations, how he plays guitar in his band, he’s writing new music. They talk about what is going on her life. She loves how he can be so wise and at the same time have a childlike wonder about the world. Nathan told Mary that he let his past go, so he doesn’t really talk about it that much, “He moves on and makes other people’s lives brighter.” Nathan asked Mary if she was able to get some respite after Justin was sentenced to life in prison plus thirty years for killing her eleven month old daughter, Gretchen. And he is finally totally out of her life. She said she been able to come to terms with the situation with Nathan’s help. Justin was sentenced to prison in September 2009. Nathan told Mary that all of the stuff that happened to him in his past is in his past. He said he would never reconcile with his dad or his other family members, but he said he had peace and was not bitter about any of that. He said he accepts what has happened to him in this life although it happened for reasons he can’t comprehend. Nahtan said, “I now have found the true sources of wisdom and a real family of people who really love me like Julie Briggs and you.”

Nathan told Mary in a letter that he sent to her, “I still have this card that you sent to me long ago. I use it as a bookmark and occasionally pull it out and read it. It said, “She was the same inside as I am, from the same kind, I sensed this instantly. It means a lot to me, that card. “We are the same, we are kindred spirits, and I love you completely.”

Nathan gave Mary a book, “All about me.” It was a complete book about every little thing about Nathan. She said it was the greatest gift she has ever received in her life. Here are some samples from the book:

Your current philosophy: We are all one, live awake to that truth, and make art with the experiences that arise.
Something that happened memorable to you this month: I had a 3 hour interview with a geneticist-inventor who’s let a wondrous life.

Two things you did today: Studied Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Learned the organ intro in Ozzies “Mr. Crowley.”

Two people who occupy your thoughts the most: Mary and Stacy

Something you learned this week: The 100 syllable Vajrasattva.

Something you need to learn now: Spanish

Your most important goal right now: Win both my lawsuits (Nathan is suing the Colorado Department of Corrections for rights that are denied to inmates.)

It would be a relief now if: I wasn’t separated from May by walls of space and time.

The best word to describe your current love life: Unfulfilled

The best word to describe your current relationship: Promising

The best word to describe your life: War

The best word to describe your current work situation: Lame with sprinkles

Your biggest obstacle right now: Incarcerated

You are happier today that in the past: [Y] Yes [ ]No

The most important thing in life: Is to fallow the guidance of your hear.

The last person you said “I love you” to: Mary

A piece of wisdom you would pass on to a child: Live through your own eyes, not other people’s.

Erik Jensen, juvenile lifer, hangs onto hope “now more than ever”
By Alan Prendergast, The
Published Fri., Nov. 30 2012 at 9:57 AM

Erik Jensen.

Erik Jensen was seventeen when he got mixed up in the deadly domestic drama of Nate Ybanez, his best buddy. Ybanez is now serving a life sentence for the 1998 murder of his mother, Julie; Jensen is also serving life without parole for helping him — although whether he was involved in the actual killing or just tried to aid his friend in covering up the crime has long been a matter of debate. Either way, both men are hoping that their chances of ever seeing the world outside prison walls may soon be a little less bleak.

As explained in this week’s cover story, “The Old Boys,” a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision found that a mandatory sentence of life without parole for juveniles is unconstitutional. What that means for 51 Colorado inmates serving such sentences in Colorado is still being thrashed out; it isn’t clear if all the sentences will simply be commuted to forty-years-to-life (the current maximum for juveniles under state law) or whether each offender must be re-sentenced separately, with the possibility of some receiving drastic reductions in time.

Jensen is hoping for a major modification of his sentence that could make him eligible for parole soon. In a recent Facebook posting to friends and supporters, he announces that his attorneys will be filing a motion next week seeking a re-sentencing hearing. “I’m confident, but I’ve been that way before,” he writes. “The difference this time is judges are actually being forced to do the right thing by the Supreme Court.”
Jensen is “approaching my 32nd birthday and inching ever closer to the dreaded date where I’ll have spent more of my life inside than out,” he notes, and that’s made him reflective about how he’s spent his life and the suffering others have gone through because of him: “Prison makes you face hard truths about yourself, and I’ve realized that prison is actually probably the best thing that could have happened to me. I was an angry, arrogant teenage boy who had every opportunity to succeed yet could never be satisfied…I find comfort and solace in the fact that the actions that landed me here always were of pure intentions and that the best friend I literally traded my life for has not wasted the sacrifice.”
It’s a fascinating document, particularly as Jensen muses whether his journey into the lower depths of the corrections system could have some larger significance. “Maybe I came to prison to be the case that decides the fate of so many other kids who made a bad choice,” he writes. “Maybe I came to effect change in individuals I encounter. Or maybe I simply came to prison to become the man the outside could never teach me to be.”

Written by Erik: For my family

As some of you may know, the Supreme Court ruled this summer that juveniles have to be given
individualized sentences. On December 7, a motion will be filed arguing that I qualify, which I do. If the
judge doesn’t want to waste a bunch of time he’ll immediately send me to district court for a new
sentence where it can be argued I deserve a sentence in which I’ll be eligible for parole soon, everyone
is pretty confident the lower sentence will happen if we get to district court. Or the judge can waste a
bunch of time and money, give me the current mandatory:40‐life knowing full and well I’ll appeal it to
the Colorado Supreme Court and knowing full and well the Supreme Court will overturn it because it is a
mandatory sentence, then THEY will send me to the district for the lower sentence. Some say that would
be best because my case would be the deciding factor for a lot of other juveniles. Both scenarios CAN
occur within a 6‐18 month range give or take. I’m confident, but I’ve been that way before. The
difference this time is judges are actually being forced to do the right thing by the Supreme Court. So
now I do what I do best: wait. While I wait here, approaching my 32nd birthday and inching ever closer
to the dreaded date where I’ll have spent more of my life inside than out I find myself looking back at
the life I’ve led.

I’m faced with the extent of what I unknowingly gambled, inevitably lost, and desire
back more than anything. Prison makes you face hard truths about yourself and I’ve realized that prison
is actually probably the best thing that could have happened to me. I was an angry, arrogant teenage
boy who had every opportunity to succeed yet could never be satisfied, always looking for destructive
ways to release the pent up angst and anger I had no reason to even feel. I make no excuses for the boy
I was, I treated my family terribly, I lashed out at my little sister whose only offense was wanting to be
around me more and who would inevitably forgive me enough to drag her husband and kids to a prison
to visit me. I squandered opportunities, quit everything that was ever a challenge, and couldn’t wait to
escape my “horrible” life. That boy is long gone, lost years ago with many of the other young kids who
came to prison just like him. I didn’t realize, at the time, but I actively chose not to walk down the
prevalent path of destruction of which prison so readily has to offer and in doing so, inevitably became
the man I never thought I would be.

I’m not perfect, but I’m finally proud of the man in the mirror, I find
comfort in the fact that I overcame the darkness of prison and can only hope I’ve become who my
parents and family always wanted me to be. Everyone who knows my parents knows they are one in a
million, compassionate people and are not capable of every doing anything remotely terrible enough to
deserve what I put them through. Sometimes I can’t believe how lucky I am they stuck by me all this
time. I’ve tried, and failed, repeatedly over the years to convince them they had nothing to do with me
coming here. They did what every parent does, told me I can do anything and even better, taught me to
question everything. They never could’ve known that such a unfortunate, one‐in‐a‐million confluence of
events could of occurred in which my arrogant ass would interpret I can do anything as I am above
everything. The pain, disappointment and frustration I have caused them still remains the failure of my
life today and for every part of me that wants to get out for myself, there is a part that wants to get out
for them.

I find comfort and solace in the fact that the actions that landed me here always were of pure intentions
and that the best friend I literally traded my life for has not wasted the sacrifice. Having to reconcile my
need to save the world with how the world actually works was a tough lesson for me. I had to have
everything taken away from me but my family in order to learn to appreciate what I have. And what do I
have today? I have a family that consistently proves how deep blood runs, proving you love your kids no
matter what, standing by me and visiting me almost every weekend for the past 14 years. For reasons I’ll
never fully understand a beautiful woman who is everything I ever wanted in a person not only found
me in here but has endured the past 3 years with me. I have friends in here who have lived very
different lives than me, giving me a perspective I never could have seen while on the outside and from
time to time I get the opportunity to direct a familiar looking, petrified teenager down the right path. A
man of unresolved faith has designated the last 3 years of his life to me, scouring every document of my
case, reading every transcript, investigating every aspect of my case with the sole mission of helping me.
All while fighting two debilitating illnesses. I have friends from all over the world that take time to write,
to include me in their lives, tell me about their families, debate and keep me in touch with the world. I
appreciate what everyone has so thoughtlessly given to me over the past years and I cannot thank
everyone enough for their support, and not just the people who visit and write, but the people who
support my family as well, I know they need it.

So why did I come here? Maybe I came to prison to be the case that decides the fate of so many other
kids who made a bad choice. Maybe I came to effect change in individuals I encounter. Or maybe I
simply came to prison to become the man the outside could never teach me to be. I’ll never know, just
like I’ll never know what would’ve happened if I hadn’t made the same decisions that night. I’ve done
everything I can think of to earn my freedom, taking advantage of opportunities to grow intellectually
and as a person and though I’ve made mistakes, I finally feel I have learned all this long, painful and
somewhat tragically ironic ordeal has to teach me. I want to apologize for missing all of the good times
with everyone and especially the bad times. I regret not being able to spend my cousins last few years
with him just like I regret not being able to spend my niece and nephew’s first few years with them.
I hold on to hope, now more than ever, that I will get the opportunity to start my life out there again and
hopefully there is still a place for me in all of your lives too. Thanks for listening.
Happy Holidays



Erik Jensen continues his education while locked up in Limon Prison. He is taking some pretty difficult classes.

Click on the link below to hear how Erik is doing in his quest for a higher education.

Erik_EducationAtLimonPrison_November 2012

They Come and the go at Limon. Erik Jensen talks about turnover at Limon Prison, Colorado.

Click on the link below to Erik’s thoughts on Limon turnover.

Erik_TurnOverAtLimon_Nov 2012

An interview with Erik Jensen where he talks about the new prison that comes into Limon.

Click on the link below to here Erik talk about the new guys coming into Limon.

Erik_NewGuysAtLimon_Nov 2012