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Charles Limbrick, freed from life sentence for killing mother as teen, identified as fatal crash victim

December 2, 2017 Updated: December 4, 2017 at 10:44 am
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Chuck Limbrick has been in prison for 17 years after murdering his mother when he was 15. He teaches music to the other prisoners, has put out gospel CDs, sings in the choir and works with children...by Kevin Kreck

Charles Limbrick, who was sentenced to life in prison as a 15-year-old for killing his mother before being freed about six years ago, has been identified as the man who died in a rollover crash Thursday night east of Calhan.

The driver, a 44-year-old Ramah man, died when he was thrown from his car after losing control on a curve near mile marker 342 on U.S. 24, the State Patrol said. The driver was not wearing a seat belt, according to the State Patrol, which said alcohol and speed possibly contributed to the wreck.

Authorities have not released the name of the driver, but Woodmen Valley Chapel posted on Facebook that Limbrick had died in the crash last Thursday.

Chuck Limbrick
Chuck Limbrick has been in prison for 17 years after murdering his mother when he was 15. He teaches music to the other prisoners, has put out gospel CDs, sings in the choir and works with children. Limbrick plays bass in the basement of what was the prison tailor shop..by Kevin Kreck 

Limbrick found religion in prison, devoting himself to Christian music and singing in the choir. He most recently was leading worship at Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church at 1 S. Walnut St. in Colorado Springs, according to his Facebook page. He had previously been a worship leader at Woodmen Valley Chapel, a church official said.

He is survived by his wife Cindy, the church post said.

Limbrick's life was a story of unexplained violence and redemption, followed by a relapse that nearly sent him back to prison.

In September 1988, Limbrick shot and killed his mother, Betty, 42, with a .357-caliber revolver in the family's Colorado Springs home. Wounded in the hand by the first shot, Betty said to her son, "Chuckie, I love you, but you just killed me," a friend who witnessed the shooting told investigators.

The teen then shot her in the head, killing her.

Fifteen-year-old Christopher Marrow, the prosecution's key witness, testified at Limbrick's trial he was in another room of the home when Limbrick shot his mother. Afterward, he helped dispose of the gun and drove Limbrick's mother's car several blocks away, where they abandoned it.

shooting
Chuck Limbrick sings at the memorial service for Tom Clements. Limbrick was sent to prison when he was 16 for killing his mother and served his time in prison. The public memorial for the chief executive of the Department of Corrections was held at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado on Monday, March 25, 2013. (The Gazette/Jerilee Bennett) 

Marrow said the boys then returned to the home and pretended to discover the body.

The prosecution pointed to the cover-up as evidence that Limbrick had no remorse. They said Limbrick was the spoiled only son in a loving family who killed his mother to escape her intrusions on his life.

Witnesses painted a much grimmer picture: Limbrick's parents were headed for divorce, his father abused his mother and both parents were having extramarital affairs.

Limbrick never testified, and ,in 2007, declined to tell The Gazette why he killed his mother.

Chuck Limbrick
Chuck Limbrick has been in prison for 17 years after murdering his mother when he was 15. He teaches music to the other prisoners, has put out gospel CDs, sings in the choir and works with children. Limbrick plays in the basement of what was the tailor shop, where he runs a music program...by Kevin Kreck 

Limbrick was tried as an adult and convicted of first-degree murder, and sentenced to 40 years to life in prison. He was the youngest person in Colorado sent to an adult prison..

He was prosecuted by John Suthers, now Colorado Springs mayor, but then the newly elected 4th Judicial District attorney.

During his first four-year term as district attorney, Suthers prosecuted 51 juveniles as adults, more than twice as many as were tried in the prior four years. He also helped write bills toughening penalties for young, violent criminals.

Yet, Suthers was one of Limbrick's advocates who urged Gov. Roy Romer in 1996 and later Gov. Bill Ritter in 2011 to commute Limbrick's sentence.

Suthers noted that, long before Limbrick served the minimum sentence of 40 years for the murder, he would have reached the age when violent behavior dramatically decreases. Limbrick's family had also forgiven him and wanted to see him free. And, Limbrick had a good prison record.

"I felt like Chuck had potential," Suthers said in 1998. "This was a sad case, as heinous as the crime is."

Chuck Limbrick
Chuck Limbrick has been in prison for 17 years after murdering his mother when he was 15. He teaches music to the other prisoners, has put out gospel CDs, sings in the choir and works with children. Limbrick plays with Leon Ray in the basement of what was the tailor shop, where Limbrick runs a music program...by Kevin Kreck 

In the 1990s, while at the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility in Cañon City, Limbrick worked with troubled youths who visited the prison through Shape Up, a deterrence program. Limbrick told The Gazette he rediscovered his love of music by writing songs for the kids.

Later on, he composed two CDs of original Christian music. He also channeled his love for music into the prison choir, Praise Team. Limbrick's case drew the attention of victims rights and prison reform activists looking to reduce life sentences for juvenile offenders.

After years of battling among politicians, activists and family members, then-Gov. Bill Ritter commuted Limbrick's life sentence in 2011, freeing him after more than two decades behind bars.

His freedom nearly came to an end in March 2015 when Limbrick rear-ended a vehicle while going north on Circle Drive near Constitution Avenue. While trying to flee, he also hit a Chrysler Pacifica driven by Jamie Northam, police said. He had just drank coffee mixed with vodka, and had a blood alcohol content of over .22, nearly three times the legal limit for driving.

Facing the possible reinstatement of his life sentence for violating parole, Limbrick was instead given a year of probation. District Judge Deborah Grohs also ordered Limbrick to complete 100 hours of community service, continue with alcohol education and get a mental health evaluation.

Northam, who was taken to the hospital with deep gashes on her face after the crash, said she suffered traumatic brain and soft tissue injuries, joint disorders, back damage, memory loss and post-traumatic stress disorder after Limbrick's van slammed twice into the back of her Chrysler Pacifica.

Nevertheless, Northam and her husband, Cliff, said the "last thing" they wanted was for the revocation of Limbrick's parole, which would have sent him back to for life.

Limbrick's memorial service will be at Emmanuel Church, Woodmen Valley Chapel said in a Facebook post. The date and time have not been announced.

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