Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Nifonged in Nicaragua: Part Two of Trinchera de la Noticia Interview with Eric Volz

The following is a translation of the second part of an interview of Eric Volz conducted and originally published by Xavier Reyes Alba, director of Trinchera de la Noticia.
The killer walks free: Volz
American tells what happened in the interrogations.
I know the people of San Juan del Sur and some demonstrators were from Managua

By Xavier Reyes Alba

Eric S. Volz says that his Calvary did not start to become pressured in San Juan del Sur, to grow darker on the fateful Tuesday, November 21, 2006. He repeated that his first cellphone call was from Managua – that day – and was made after 4.30 in the afternoon, but the judge rejected the report of the telephone company as evidence for the defense.

The 27 year old American, sentenced to 30 years for the murder of Doris Jimenez, a graceful girl from Rivas who had been his girlfriend, tells in an exclusive to Trinchera de la Noticia that he went to collect the father of the girl and they went directly to the family home, where the vigil began to be organized. The father was never called to testify by the district attorney.

Trinchera: What happened that night?

Volz: The same night that I went to San Juan del Sur, agents of the police interviewed me. The first question they asked me was: “Eric, where were you today between ten in the morning and three in the afternoon?” My first answer that came from my lips was that I was in Managua, in my office.

And they asked: “Do you have witnesses who can confirm this?” I said yes. They asked, “how many?” I answered, at least eight. And the witnesses came to Rivas to give their statements in the trial.

I only remember one time when the police interviewed me and were taking notes, and it was precisely when I was interviewing with the subcommissioner of police who later said that I had confessed, which, I repeat, is a lie.

The first night, the day of the murder, I voluntarily gave them samples of hair, saliva, and with (clippers?) they took samples of my nails, for which I signed a written authorization.

After they arrested me, they took blood samples.

Trinchera: Did they ask you directly if you killed her?

Volz: No, they never asked me directly if I had killed her. Indeed, I cooperated with them a great deal. I was one of the people who knew Doris best, and they asked me many questions, but they never asked me if I had killed her.

There was a moment, looking back, when this same police subcommissioner, whose name I am not going to say right now, was asking me, “what was your relation with Doris like? Where did you go? Do you suspect anyone?” and suddenly his tone changed.

He began to speak to speak to me in another way, with an accusatory tone. “You become violent when you drink, don’t you, Eric? Did you hit Doris?” and things of that sort. I told him that I didn’t like the tone in which he was speaking to me, and if it was necessary, I would get an attorney.

He was disturbed and left there at that point.

Trinchera: When did this incident occur?

Volz: On the next day. Doris died on Tuesday afternoon and the questioning was on Wednesday afternoon in Rivas. They arrested me on Thursday, the 23rd of November.

Trinchera: What do you think happened at that moment?

Volz: I don’t know. I would like to know. There are many unusual twists. The investigation has very big holes, has many gaps in the information they collected.

I do know that she died unjustly, that it was a horrible murder, and she is the biggest victim in this whole story.

Trinchera: So from this moment, did the police and the family change their attitudes?

Volz: There is a key point: that is when Doris’ family changed, if you recall, Doris’ mother went out saying to the press that she had received a telephone call from a police official that told them that I had confessed to the crime. That I had confessed to having murdered Doris, but that I refused to sign the statement.

I ask myself, where is the statement of the police official? Why did they not present that in the trial? If I had confessed to the police, why did they not call this official, who did not even show his face, to the trial?

This calls to attention, why did they never present the recording that Doris’ mother claimed she had of the high official’s statement?

As explained earlier, after the police subcommissioner had interviewed Volz, who was not called to testify despite having interviewed Volz, the history of the trial began to change.

The first action of the Rivas police was to order the arrest of Eric, Armando Llanes, Nelson Lopez-Danglas and Julio Martin Chamorro under the suspicion that the four had committed the crime.

The initial theory of the investigators was that the four had entered the shop Sol Fashions, that Volz and Doris Jimenez had started in San Juan del Sur, and that they raped and later killed her.

Later, a second theory was produced. One of those arrested, Lopez-Danglas, whom Volz states is known in the port city as a minor drug consumer, negotiated an incriminating confession from Volz in exchange for becoming a witness, and not a defendant, in the trial.

His confession freed Chamorro and Llanes from responsibility. According to this version, Lopez-Danglas saw this at one in the afternoon: Eric and an unknown man inside the shop.

Eric – according to the statement that was part of the trial – asked (Lopez-Danglas) to meet him at 1pm in front of Doris’ shop and paid him 50 cordobas to put two bags in a white car.

Trinchera: What became of the two theories?

Volz: With respect to the witness who said he saw me at the crime scene, this is rather curious because one of the main pieces of evidence that they used to accuse me was a statement from Julio Martin Chamorro, presented by the police. In this statement, Julio Martin states that he saw me and Armando Llanes rape and kill Doris and that Nelson Lopez-Danglas was seen in the scene.

When the District Attorney’s Office withdrew charges against Lopez-Danglas and Llanes, with the same stroke they disqualified this statement and the theory. The same Districe Attorney’s office said that Chamorro lied in his statement. Although at the same time, the District Attorney presented Chamorro’s statement as proof, but only the part that said that Eric was in the shop.

This is illegal, it’s a contradiction, a fault of the trial.

Trinchero: Someone said they saw you at that time in front of the shop?

Volz: Nelson Lopez-Danglas was one of the prime suspects and was accused of the crime, but suddenly he was set free and appeared as a witness. I ask myself: San Juan del Sur is a small village and very concentrated; it has 23 thousand inhabitants, the judge said that I was in the central market at noon in San Juan del Sur, but Lopez-Danglas is the only person who says that he saw me.

Everyone knows me in San Juan del Sur, they know my car, they know my face. That has to sow doubts, but no, for the judge, I was like a magician who came into San Juan del Sur, killed Doris and then left without anyone seeing me.

The judge said that the motive was jealousy, that it was a crime of passion, and that I was jealous of Doris’ new boyfriend, who was Armando Llanes. Then, why was I looking for this same person, of whom I was jealous, to go and kill Doris? This has no sense, it is another contradiction.

There is a series of shortcomings, gaps in the accusation against me, including the same failure of the judge to prove that I was the guilty one. There are doubts, and when there are doubts, you cannot condemn a person.

The coffin and the lesions

One of the pieces that the District Attorney’s office used as fundamental evidence in the trial against the young American were the marks, signs that showed up on the higher right part of Eric’s shoulder.

The photograph was presented as ‘scratches’ made by the victim to defend herself against the murderer.

Trinchera: How do you explain these marks between the neck and the back?

Eric: The way my defense explained it. This concerns lesions, contusions, not cuts, that showed up on me after the mass when I carried the coffin on my right shoulder. We have investigated this and a coffin can weigh up to 500 pounds.

In general, such a coffin is carried by eight strong men, and on this day not more than four men carried it. In the photo, the lesions look very red and the forensic expert said that they were lesions three or four days old, but a lesion three or four days old doesn’t look red.

In the photos used by the press, you don’t see a bone that sticks out. They shrank the photo. In the photo that was in the trial, this bone sticks out, color red, (which gives to understand that it was not for the excess of something).

Yes, I had lesions, but they were contusions, and they told the people that they were scratches, and then they all said “the gringo, the murderer.”

The million dollars

Another theme very spread abroad by the press in the course of the trial, was a supposed offer of one million dollars for Doris’ family to withdraw the charges.

The print media published versions in which Eric and his family had made the offers.

Trinchera: Did you offer money? Did someone offer you money?

Volz: False. Doris’ mother went out with an accusation that I had offered her a million dollars to drop the charges. This was a very strong blow in public opinion.

In fact, this changed public opinion so that they thought this way. … I had to be the guilty one.

But it is curious because it is not Doris’ family that has accused me, for this, Doris’ mother’s story makes no sense, because the District Attorney’s office lodged the accusation.

And although Doris’ family stopped and said publicly that Eric is innocent (they did not stop?) the accusation. This was one of the strategic parts of those affected (?), to throw venom based on rumors and unjust opinions.

It is very curious. How is it that the family has gone out saying such bad things about me when during the vigil, the burial, when I was crying with them, they didn’t say anything before the police arrested me? I was not arrested because of the family’s accusations, they never said that I threatened her or hit her, as some witnesses said.

I was arrested because of Julio Martin Chamorro’s statement.

The killer walks free

Trinchera: What questions should we be asking of ourselves as a society, and of the very court of appeals?

Volz: Unfortunately the image of Eric Volz in Nicaragua has been deformed by the media. They have presented manipulated information, filtered information and there is half of the story that the majority of the Nicaraguan people haven’t heard at all.

I am in prison and here I have not had access to information about the investigation. My life is fighting for my freedom. I feel in my heart that there was a murder and the fact is that they have only focused on Eric Volz, although there were four people accused.

Besides, I feel that there is something more. There is no logical explanation. There should be a force, something there. If this was vengeance, I don’t know, I’m not going to talk without being sure, but it is possible.

The media campaign and his mother

Trichera: The campaign across the internet and the pressure of the big media in the US has been very dramatic. What role have you had in this?

Volz: I want the people to know that there was never a great waste of money in the media campaign. When they accused me and I was headed to trial, the same media that have condemned me, wanted to interview me, to speak with my family, wanted to come to prison and speak with Eric Volz, we decided, in order to keep the situation calm, to put our faith in Nicaraguan justice.

We didn’t want the media to go dramatizing the story, to go and make stereotypes of the Nicaraguan people. I have perhaps spent $40 dollars in the media campaign in putting up a web page.

All the rest has been out of the love of my family and friends who are supporting me, like the MySpace webpage, which I still haven’t seen, but know that it is free, like we say, ‘grass roots’.

The support that is surging in favor of Eric Volz is global, not only from the United States. There are many people from here in Nicaragua who write to me, who support me, who have spoken with my mother, there are Nicaraguans in Miami, Latinos in all of Latin America, soldiers in Iraq have written to me.

The movement we are seeing now, even at the international level, is not so much only about Eric Volz; these people have a passion for justice, and for this it is very strong. It’s not so much that they want me. I am (just) the symbol.

We mustn’t forget that I am not the first or the last who will go this way. In this sense, my case is functioning like an antenna that’s calling attention.

And many good things have come from this situation, not only in the case of Eric Volz, but in the theme of justice in general.

Final words

I would like to ask the Nicaraguan people to consider this story for a moment, and listen to my version, because I have never told it.

I love Nicaragua very much, I don’t resent the Nicaraguan people, the media have taken things out of context.

I have the right to carry the Latin American flag. My ancestors are Latin Americans. Certainly I am gringo, but I have Latin American blood and in that sense I want the people to listen with their hearts and consider the version of the story I’m telling. I am innocent, and I continue with faith in the judicial process and in Nicaraguan justice.
Part one of Alba's story can be found here.


Mudfence said...

It is so obvious the killer is really

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