Dec. 1, 2013

Conditions Of Confinement

by Michael Quinones (author's profile)


Following 5 pages: 11.11.13

Blog Post: Conditions of Confinement /1385/

Greetings! And welcome to my world.

Currently I am serving a 300-month prison sentence due to a 1st degree felony (robbery) murder conviction out of Spokane, Washington.

On October 5, 2008, I met a woman of my age (28), who invited me to come stay the night at her apt. I had been staying at the Apple Tree Motel ($56 per night), and when the young lady, Jennifer, saw that I was struggling to afford the cost of rent at the hotel, she offered to let me rent a bedroom for $20 per night. I agreed to meet her at her apartment later that evening, informing her that I had an acquaintance who would be needing a place to stay, also.

Jennifer said that'd be fine as long as we conducted ourselves like gentlemen.

I had just arrived in Spokane about two months prior. I had been travelling the country enjoying the sense of adventure and freedom that comes with the temporary respite from responsibility.

Being separated from my wife, with a divorce looming imminently on the horizon, I was taking advantage of my free time by checking out the sights across this great country of ours. Landing in Spokane, WA, was supposed to be just a routine stop along the way, but because of how friendly the people seemed to be, I decided there was as good a place as any, to finally kick back and settle in for a minute, or two.

I hadn't any friends or family in this part of the country, I just made up my mind I was tired of travelling, after 4 weeks on the road.

When I arrived in Spokane, the weather was pleasant, it being the first week of August. I'd never before that summer been anyplace west of Tennessee. When I set out (with a partner of mine from North Carolina) to see the West, my - our - intention was to see the great Rocky Mountains in Colorado state. However, once we arrived in Denver, we decided the Golden Gate Bridge seemed like a nice place to visit, also. So off we went in a Jeep Grand Cherokee.

The route we took from Richmond, VA, carried us through St. Louis and Kansas City, MO; Denver, Salt Lake City; Reno, NV, and Sacramento, and finally, to San Francisco, California.

Once there, we stayed for a week, enjoying the Bay area.

Having travelled over 3,000 miles, I was ready to get dug in and find some work, so I could start earning the money I'd need for living expenses.

But Seattle, and the Space Needle, was calling my name. So off we went. We were having entirely too much fun, and I knew this extravagant lifestyle would soon catch up to us.

2nd Page - Blog Post: Travels and Eventual Conviction That Led to a 25-Year Prison Term.

It started out as basically just one big vacation. Seeing the sights. Meeting new people. Taking pictures of bridges, skyscrapers, mountains, and such. An occasional hotel party. Alcohol. Drugs. Women.

By the time we (me and Dave) got to Spokane, we were tired of the Hwy. Burned out from the road. After one week, Dave left Spokane. I'm not sure where he went.

I took on various odd jobs in construction while in Spokane. After one week in a homeless shelter I met a guy who welcomed me to sleep on his couch for a six-pack of beer each night. I gladly bought him the beer and we became fast friends.

I frequented the bars downtown where I met fast, easy women, whom I brought back to my new friend's apartment. Life was good.

Then one day, while hanging out under the I90 overpass, I met a 17-year-old punk who was AWOL from the drug rehab he was sentenced to. His name is Matthew T. Shope, and he was the acquaintance who was absent when I first met Jennifer Siria at the bus stop.

I had met him, then his mother, Ms. Hewitt, just days before this encounter with Ms. Siria.

Most of what happened late that night of October 5, early that morning of October 6, 2008, can be found reported in the newspaper and police records.

However, there is very little truth, besides how Jennifer was killed, listed in those reports. My "version" of the facts was never published, nor even considered.

Shortly after the death of Ms. Siria, Matthew turned himself in to Spokane Police. He gave his statement to the detectives just hours after we left the apartment together.

Here's how it happened:

Jennifer Siria was beaten and strangled to death. She was hit on the top of the head with a bottle, causing hemorrhaging and blood loss. It is said a power cord was used in causing her asphyxiation.

I am not sure of this. That night, I drank a six-pack of Keystone Ice beer (16oz cans). I also drank 1 1/2 quarts of MD 20/20 banana red/orange jubilee wine.

Matt Shope remained sober.

Jennifer Siria had been using copious amounts of methamphetamine for over 10 days straight. She was injecting meth the night she was killed. She hadn't slept in a week. All this she told me, and was evident from her behavior. (She was hallucinating, talking to herself and 'ghosts'.)

Jennifer was gone from the apt. for several hours that night. Shope and I later found her alongside of the road, "spun-out", and, "tweaking".

We all got along well enough in the beginning, but as it grew later (into the early a.m. hrs) I became sleepy and wanted to rest before leaving out the next morning. Because of the amount of noise, I was unable to sleep and became agitated. I confronted Jennifer about the noise and soon an argument erupted. Since I had paid to spend the night, and had given her money besides, I believed it my right to ask for some of the money back.

This, Jennifer did not agree to. I didn't want to argue about it but she was very belligerent and obnoxious from all the drug use.

I was also very intoxicated. My aggravation soon turned to rage at her insistence that she owed me nothing. I met her level of hostility and was soon engaged in a physical confrontation in which I remember striking her in the face.

She then attempted to hit me with a juice bottle, throwing it at me. The fight quickly progressed, blows were thrown, and Jennifer, Matthew, and myself were then rolling around on the living room floor.

She put up quite a struggle, pulling and scratching at my face. Matt was doing his best to hold her down, lashing out at her as well.

Somewhere along all the cursing and thrashing around, it became apparent that we could not restrain her. She was too amped up on crank. I was too drunk. Matthew was just scared.

I tried to reason with her, calm her down. She felt I had taken advantage of her, lied to her. But I had no idea she would be shooting dope and raising Cain at two in the morning. It didn't feel safe to stay there any longer.

Jennifer was not robbed. The money was not taken by force or threats. But things definitely got carried away and went too far that night.

I tried to give Jennifer the opportunity to lay still until Matt and I could gather our belongings and get the hell out of there. But she continued to resist my efforts, aggressively. I lost my self-control and struck her multiple times with a bottle.

There was quite a bit of blood. Still, she was not dead. She moaned and rolled over on her side. Matt had gotten our bags and stuff together and was ready to leave, but seemed hesitant.

I knew what he was thinking. We can't leave her alive. She'd already threatened to call the cops. We knew she would tell them we assaulted her. We'd be looking at 5-10 for sure.

...there's not a day that goes by that I don't regret what happened that night. It wasn't much money. Certainly not enough to kill over. She was a female. That eats at the conscience. But what really hurts is that my ex-partner, and codefendant, turned state's evidence and gave testimony against me, in exchange for a lesser charge in a plea agreement.

After we left that night, as luck would have it, we ran into a deputy patrol car, not 5 blocks from the scene of the crime. I knew right then it was a bad omen.

But unbelievably, he knew nothing about the attack/domestic violence. I began to feel hopeful until I saw the look of fear on Matt's face. He looked ready to break. Fragile. If he would've caved then, we'd of had NO defense. As it was, we had none anyway.

I wasn't so aware of what was happening inside the apartment then, as I am now. I really had less than two seconds to decide if we would finish what we started or leave her half alive, and take our chances she wouldn't remember us. Fat chance that was.

So now, after much finger-pointing from my crime partner, I am in a maximum-security prison, have been since May, 2010.

During my pre-trial confinement in the Spokane County Jail, I spent much of my time trying to prepare some kind of defense to the sensational accusations that were being hurled at me by my codefendant, and, by extension, the prosecutor.

I mean, let's face it. You don't go to prison for what you do. You go to prison for what the state can PROVE you did. And the only proof was that of a 2nd degree murder.

The public defender that was assigned to my case never did any independent investigation of his own. Never even drove up the street to visit the crime scene. Never interviewed ANY witnesses (besides my codefendant, after much insistence from me). No private forensic testing. Nothing.

So for eighteen months I sat in a small cell reading, day and night, constitutional and statutory law, case law, sentencing guidelines, police reports, discovery info, all in the hope of learning my rights, so I wouldn't get cheated by an overcrowded "justice" system.

Even still, I was railroaded, having a choice between pleading guilty as charged, and going to an unfair trial where the deck is already stacked against me.

(Please see my next installment continued on page 5.)

5th page: Locked up! The criminal justice system. 1st degree murder. 25 year sentence.

For those of you who don't have any experience with jails, courts, lawyers at trial, judges, juries, etc...

You see all these cop shows on T.V. Law & Order, CSI. And now they got these "reality" T.V. shows. "Behind Bars". "Locked Up." The Discovery Channel and Nat Geo have these and others. But what they don't show you is what it's like from the accused perspective. From the eyes of the convicted!

The government wants - needs - the public to believe they are doing their sworn civic duties to "protect and serve". As elected officials would have you to believe they are at your service. Working hard to prevent crime and initiating programs to assist officers in more proficient law enforcement.

I'm not gonna try to justify my criminal acts, nor anybody else's. Anyone who breaks the law should be punished accordingly. There is no excuse, such as poverty, ignorance, race, etc., to justify crime. there are people - (1-in-500) - who prey on those weaker than themselves. There are approximately one-in-300 people in this country who enjoy hurting others. Maybe the ratio is a lot higher, IDK.

Most likely, you or somebody you know, has a friend or family member who has been to jail for a minor misdemeanor charge? Maybe a neighbor has asked you for help getting out of a legal financial obligation? Probably not. But here's my point:

Violence, sex, drugs, guns, gambling... It is all a major part of American culture. Partying. Celebrating. Divorce, abortions, adultery... All common American practices. Either the parents are abusing their children or the children are abusing their parents.

A criminal mentality starts early in life, and those of us who haven't been to jail are at times living on the edge. Driving too fast after having a few drinks can lead to years in prison. That's just one example.

Having the shit scared out of you by having to spend a night in jail is one thing. Using prisons as storage facilities is another. Locking a man in a bare-bones, 7x10ft cell, 23 hrs-a-day, 365 days-a-year... that's insane!

Welcome to my life...

* Please read on for more of my opinions, philosophies, experiences... Feel free to reply...


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