COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - "Chuck" Limbrick Jr. was convicted of murder in the death of the woman who gave him life. At 15, he was tried as an adult, convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 40 years to life in prison, making him the youngest person in Colorado sent to an adult prison in more than a century.
Twenty-three years later, at the age of 38, he is out on parole. Limbrick agreed his first on-camera interview since his release with KRDO-TV. He talked about his his mother, his faith and his music.
During the interview, Limbrick played a piano and sang a song that he said kept him strong during his time behind bars.
?Tomorrow is the promise. Let the world roll off your shoulders and just live life for today,? he sang. ?Yesterday is gone, but still today is here.?
In so many ways, Limbrick?s past is just that: gone. His music, for years, chased away the shadows of the past. The majority of his life has been spent in prison.
?I was convicted for shooting my mom,? said Limbrick. ?I was in prison for 23 years. and it was hard.?
In 1988, he was a teenager living in a Colorado Springs home with his mom and dad. His father, whom Limbrick was named after, still lives in that house today.
Limbrick?s mother, Betty, is buried in a Colorado Springs cemetery.
?She's a beautiful woman,? said Limbrick. ?I carry her in me all the time. When I think about her, I remember her singling all the time.?
Music is a bond he shares with his mom.
?I remember my mom singing all the time,? said Limbrick with a smile. ?I think singing brought her a lot of relief from, you know, the pain she probably was feeling in her life.?
He would not go into detail about the pain he was referring to.
But as for that day, Sept. 27, 1988, when he pulled the trigger, those are also memories he does not want to talk about. He has publicly refrained the question that so many want to know the answer to: Why did he kill his mother?
When KRDO asked Limbrick that question, he said, ?I don't think you have an answer for a lot of the choices and decisions that you make. Situations happen in different people's life, and people handle things differently.?
?You ask a kid, 'Why did you take the cookie out of the cookie jar when I told you not to?' and the first thing he says is ?I don?t know,? and the truth is he really don?t know,? said Limbrick. ?So you know, in scenarios that I?ve faced in in my life sometimes, you know, the reality is I don?t know.?
He continued, without directly answering the question. ?I think that when you?re a young person you don?t, do things purposefully. You just, you act on impulse. You just do what you do.?
?And that?s what?s happening to a majority of the kids out here today,? said Limbrick, as turned the focus to teens today. ?They?re just acting on impulse -- What feels good, what looks good. You know, the old saying is, 'What?s everything that shines is not gold.' But you don?t know that when you?re little.?
Despite the fact that he won?t discuss the reason he pulled the trigger, he does admit to the crime.
?It's a mistake that I made when I was young, and I know that I'm far removed from the person that I was, you know, as a child,? said Limbrick. ?I can't change that day. I took responsibility and I paid for that thing. I paid more than, than I probably should have had to pay.?
After a brief pause, he continued by saying, ?And then again, maybe I didn't pay what I should have had to pay.?
Attorney General John Suthers was the El Paso County District Attorney at the time of Limbrick?s trial.
Suthers and current District Attorney Dan May prosecuted the case. Limbrick was convicted on June 28, 1989.
In 1996, Suthers met with Limbrick. Suthers said that on the basis of that meeting, he wrote a letter to Limbrick?s attorney, explaining that he would not oppose commutation of Limbrick?s sentence.
?John Suthers, he supported me getting a commute from the governor?s office,? said Limbrick. ?He was true to his word. He helped me. He supported and helped me get a commute.?
In December 2006, then-Gov. Bill Ownens gave Limbrick a limited commutation, offering the possibility of an early parole hearing and an early release from prison.
But days would add up to months, years and decades. During that time that Limbrick learned to play the piano.
?Jesus taught me,? said Limbrick. ?I never really had music lessons or nothing. So everything that I know, you know, I just kind of know it.?
In turn, Limbrick gave music lessons to his fellow inmates, and in some cases, he performed for them.
In 2010, before Gov. Bill Ritter left office, the rest of Limbrick?s sentence was wiped away.
On July 1, 2011, Limbrick was released from prison on parole.
KRDO asked him if he thought it was fair that he was free to do as he pleased, while his mom didn?t have the same luxury.
Limbrick responded in a roundabout way by saying, ?The truth of the matter is that the freedom that I have has absolutely nothing to do with my ability to walk around.?
Limbrick is free on earth and still has high hopes eternity.
?I believe in heaven, and I believe in hell too,? he laughed. ?It's all real to me.?
When asked if he thought he was going to heaven, he said, ?Absolutely.?
?The Bible tells me that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved,? said Limbrick. ?I called on him, and I continue to call on Him every day, so at the end of this thing I'll be able to live, you know, in heaven with God.?
He said he believes his mom is watching over him.
?I know my mama loves me,? said Limbrick. ?I believe in my heart that she's proud of me for the person that I've become.?
Limbrick believes his mother is in heaven and has forgiven him.
KRDO asked him what he would say to his mom if she were sitting next to him.
?Besides the fact that I love her and that I miss her,? he said, ?I would tell her that I'm working to make her proud, and make my family proud. "I know I made some mistakes. I know there?s probably a lot of people hurt by a lot of the choices and decisions that I?ve made, but I?m making it right, and I think that she already knows that.
Limbrick said his father and two sisters have forgiven him.
?Surprisingly, my sisters and my dad never skipped a beat in their love for me,? said Limbrick. ?I think the lessons that we learned in our growing up is that you know you love each other and you take care of each other, because everybody is going to go through something sooner or later. And my sisters have always been there for me. And you know, I?ve been there for them. We?ve been there for each other. I mean, of course this thing that happened is something that affected all of them greatly. But the values that we did have, you know, is to love one another. And they made up their mind that they were going to be there for their little brother, and they were.?
It should be noted that Limbrick could finish out his parole at any time. He meets with his parole officer regularly. In the meantime, he can?t drink or get into any trouble and must maintain employment. Since his release from prison, Limbrick has been working at Woodmen Valley Church, where he helps with music programs.
While he was in prison, Limbrick was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He is on medication to deal with his illness.