Friends of Eric Volz Email

The following email was received from one of my close friends with a short forwarding message which I have omitted for clarity:


        You have received this either because you are my wonderful family, an
        outstanding friend or a media contact I work with that I truly respect
        and think should be aware of this atrocity.

        One of my dearest friends knows someone that has been wrongfully and
        unjustly charged with murder while in Nicaragua starting up a magazine
        on “green living.”

        Forward this, blast it, send it, pass it. Go the the site, learn about
        this injustice, write Eric, write your peeps in congress. Don’t just
        sit there.

        Facts Statement
        Statement of Facts in Connection with Eric Volz’ Whereabouts on
        November 21, 2006

        I. The Facts:

        Doris Jimenez was killed Tuesday, November 21, 2006, between 11:45 am
        and 1:00 pm, in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. Her body was found at
        about 2:00 pm inside a clothing store she owned. She was tied,
        strangled and asphyxiated. Doris was popular and attractive and her
        murder deeply unsettled this small tourist town.

        Eric Volz was two hours away in Managua at the time of the murder.
        Eric, a 27-year old American, had been living in Nicaragua for some
        two years. Not only were there 10 witnesses who saw him in Managua
        during the time of the murder, none of the physical evidence recovered
        from the scene linked Eric to the crime. Indeed, none of the blood,
        fluid, hair, or other physical evidence collected at the scene had any
        tie to Eric.

        Throughout the day of the murder Eric was in Managua at the house
        where he lived and worked. Eric’s house in Managua served as the
        offices of EP Magazine — a sustainable development and lifestyle
        magazine. Eric awoke there early that morning and entered the office
        area at around 9:15 am. The housekeeper, security guard and no fewer
        than five EP workers were there at the time and saw Eric.

        At about 10:30 am, Eric received a visit from two women interested in
        EP Magazine. They met with Eric until approximately 11:00 am. Around
        noon, Eric met with Ricardo Castillo, a well-regarded journalist and a
        potential contributing editor for EP Magazine. The meeting between
        Eric and Castillo included a telephone conference call between Eric,
        Castillo and a US business contact in Atlanta, Georgia, Nick Purdy.
        That 54-minute conference call, which ended at 1:14 pm, is supported
        by phone records. Nick Purdy also had digital time-stamped instant
        messages from Eric showing that in total the two men were engaged in
        intensive business communications from approximately 9:21 am until
        2:07 pm.

        After the call with Nick Purdy, Eric, Castillo and Adam Paredes (an EP
        employee) had a curried fish and vegetable lunch prepared by the EP
        housekeeper, Martha. This lunch was witnessed by several EP
        colleagues. Castillo left the EP house around 2:00 pm.

        Eric was at the house in Managua and in the presence of 5 people when
        he received the news that Doris was dead. He received that news from a
        friend of Doris’ who called his cell phone and spoke to Eric at 2:43
        pm. At about that same time, yet another witness, Rossy, arrived and
        saw Eric at his house in Managua.

        At around 3:00pm, Eric rented a car to go to San Juan del Sur quickly
        and assist her family. Eric’s own car was old and slow and he often
        rented a car for the one-lane trip to San Juan. The car was delivered
        by Hertz Rent A Car to the Managua house. Eric did not meet with the
        rental car staff himself, however, one of his employees brought him
        the rental car credit vouchers for Eric to sign. The rental car
        contract was printed by Hertz Rent A Car at 3:11 pm.

        In addition to the witnesses above, Eric’s defense was also able to
        secure cell phone records (known as “cell site” records that show the
        location of the cell phone at the time a call is received or made) for
        Eric’s cell phone which showed that Eric was using his cell phone in
        Managua that day. The cell site records show that Eric’s cell phone
        was used in Managua during the time of the murder and until late
        afternoon when he departed for San Juan del Sur to be with Doris’
        family. Indeed, the first call that Eric made outside of the Managua
        area did not occur until 4:38 pm.

        II. The Arrest and Prosecution of Eric Volz:

        Despite the conclusive evidence placing Eric two hours away in Managua
        at the time of the crime in San Juan del Sur, the police issued an
        arrest warrant for Eric, as well three others: Armando Llanes, Nelson
        Lopez-Danglas and Julio Chamorro, for the murder of Doris Jimenez.
        These arrest warrants were based on the prosecution’s first theory
        that Eric and Llanes, Doris’ current boyfriend, went inside the store
        with Danglas and Chamorro – two known, petty criminals and drug users
        from San Juan – and raped and killed Doris. This version of events
        appears to have come from the unsigned “confession” of Chamorro.

        A few days after his arrest, Lopez-Danglas apparently “confessed” that
        at 1:00 pm he was outside the store and saw Eric and an unknown man
        inside the store. Lopez-Danglas, who at the time of his arrest had
        injuries to his penis and scratches on his neck, torso, forearms and
        hands, stated that Eric asked him to meet him at 1:00 pm in front of
        Doris’ store and paid him 50 cordobas to move two bags into a white
        car. In return for this testimony against Eric, Danglas was released
        and all charges against him were dropped.

        Llanes, who is from wealthy Nicaraguan family, presented a piece of
        paper from a registrar’s office in support of his alibi that he was
        registering for college classes at the time of the crime. Based on
        this one piece of paper, the prosecution dismissed all charges against
        Llanes – without any questioning of him and without securing any hair
        or blood samples from him. Indeed, Llanes was never even arrested
        despite the fact that he was charged and that a warrant was issued for
        his arrest.

        Eric and Chamorro, on the other hand, were ordered to go to trial. The
        prosecution moved forward in spite of the facts that: (1) no one other
        than Lopez-Danglas, a known criminal, claimed to have seen Eric in San
        Juan; (2) that the police interviewed several people who testified
        that Eric was in Managua at the time of the murder; and (3) that
        absolutely no physical evidence (blood, saliva, hair, fibers or semen)
        linked Eric to the crime. On the date that Eric was ordered to stand
        trial, there was a riot outside the courthouse in Rivas where Eric was
        almost killed by a street mob.

        The prosecution presented several witnesses at trial. Only a few had
        any connection to a case against Eric. Specifically, the prosecution’s
        evidence against Eric was as follows:

        As to physical evidence, the prosecution called several medical
        examiners who testified that they reviewed the physical evidence
        collected at the scene (i.e., hair, fluid, and blood) and that none of
        their tests showed a link to Eric. For example, the medical examiners
        testified that a small amount of blood that was found on a sheet used
        to wrap the deceased was O blood type and that Eric was A type. There
        was also testimony that although over 100 hair samples were collected
        from the scene, not one could be linked to Eric. In short, there was
        no physical evidence connecting Eric to the crime scene.

        The prosecution called Gabriela Vanessa Sobalvarro, a friend of the
        deceased, who testified that she called Eric on his cell phone and
        told him that Doris was dead. The cell site records confirm that Eric
        was in Managua when he received her call at 2:43 pm. She testified
        that Eric told her that he would rent a car and go to San Juan.

        Doris’ mother took the stand to testify that Eric’s family offered to
        pay her $1 million to drop the charges. To be clear, Eric’s family
        made no such offer nor do they have any such means. Indeed, the family
        has cashed out their savings, held benefit concerts and sought
        donations from friends to provide Eric a defense. In what has been
        nothing short of a full blown media campaign in Nicaragua against
        Eric, Doris’ mother, in her effort to inflame the passions of the
        people of Rivas and San Juan, has launched a series of preposterous
        accusations, wholly unsupported by the facts and the evidence.

        The prosecution called Victor Jose Morales Gutierrez, a Hertz employee
        who testified that he delivered a car to Eric’s EP house in Managua in
        the afternoon of the date of the murder. He also testified that a
        friend of Eric’s wanted him to testify that he saw Eric at the time of
        car delivery although he did not. Rental car documents, however, show
        that Eric personally signed the credit card vouchers, and that the car
        was delivered after 3:00 pm – after Eric heard that Doris had died.

        The prosecution also relied on Chamarro’s unsigned “confession” that
        he was in San Juan del Sur and saw Eric and Armando Llanes commit the
        crime. The introduction of Chamorro’s unsigned confession into
        evidence was particularly egregious. First, because Chamorro did not
        testify at trial, Eric’s defense was not able to cross examine him
        regarding that statement. Second, because Chamorro’s “confession”
        identified Llanes as one of two other murderers, the prosecution had
        already obviously discredited and disregarded the “confession” when it
        dismissed all the charges against Llanes. Finally, by presenting an
        alibi witness to testify at trial that Chamorro was eating lunch at
        the time of the murder, Chamorro himself recanted his own statement of
        confession. Thus, despite the fact that Chamarro recanted, that the
        defense had no opportunity to cross examine Chamarro as to either
        version of events, and that the prosecution had already disregarded
        the “confession” in dismissing the charges against Llanes, Chamarro’s
        “confession” implicating Eric and Llanes, was admitted into evidence,
        but only against Eric and Chamarro.

        Finally, the prosecution called the only witness who could offer
        direct trial testimony against Eric — Lopez-Danglas, the former
        co-defendant now turned government witness, who testified that he saw
        Eric leave the store on the afternoon of the murder, and that he was
        outside of the store because Eric had asked him to be there. By
        several accounts, Danglas was visibly incoherent on the stand, and
        appeared to be under the influence of narcotics. He also admitted his
        drug use and bad character, admitting that he was a drug user and lazy
        “but not a liar.”

        In short, when the prosecution rested its case only one witness placed
        Eric in San Juan – a drug user and former co-defendant turned
        government witness, Danglas. Perhaps more importantly, while no fewer
        than 103 individual hairs were collected at the scene there was no
        physical evidence linking Eric to the crime. Indeed, although the
        prosecution tried to argue that Eric had some scratches on the back of
        his shoulder (their sole argument on the physical evidence), the
        forensic tests conducted on the deceased’s body confirmed that she had
        no skin or blood underneath her fingernails. This easily proved that
        even if Eric had scratches on the back of his shoulder there is no
        link between that and the murder. Further, the prosecution failed to
        establish that Doris had been raped, making Eric’s conviction for that
        crime equally unsupportable.

        III. The Defense Case:

        As noted above, no less than ten witnesses were available to reaffirm
        their prior sworn statements that Eric was in Managua at the time of
        the murder. However, due to a limitation on the number of witnesses
        allowed to testify about this critical fact, only four witnesses
        (including Eric) were allowed to testify that Eric was in Managua
        during the time of the murder. Even so, the defense case was
        overwhelming. Indeed, it was conclusive. The following witnesses were
        permitted to testified on Eric’s behalf:

        Ricardo Castillo, a highly regarded Nicaraguan journalist who is
        internationally recognized and has worked with the BBC of London and
        the Washington Post, among other papers and news media, testified that
        he was with Eric on the afternoon of the murder. Castillo, who had
        only recently met Eric and had no financial interest in EP Magazine,
        testified that he was meeting and having lunch with Eric from about
        noon to 2:00 pm.

        Nick Purdy is an American businessman and journalist who was exploring
        the possibility of contributing to EP Magazine. On the day of the
        murder, Mr. Purdy testified, and telephone records confirm, that he
        was on the phone with Eric and Mr. Castillo for approximately 54
        minutes, from 12:19 to 1:14pm. —again the exact time that the
        prosecution claims Eric was in San Juan committing the murder. Mr.
        Purdy also produced his instant messaging notes and testified that he
        and Eric were communicating for most of the morning and early

        Rossy Aguello is a hairdresser who had an appointment to cut Eric’s
        hair the afternoon of the murder. Rossy testified that she arrived at
        the EP house to cut Eric’s hair at approximately 2:00 pm and saw Eric
        at the house and was also present when Hertz delivered the rental car
        to Eric.

        Finally, Eric took the stand and testified that he had been at his
        home in Managua throughout the day of the murder. Needless to say,
        Eric denied that he had any involvement in Doris’ death.

        The testimony of the defense witnesses and the lack of evidence
        presented by the prosecution would not prove sufficient – residents of
        Rivas were congregating outside the courtroom and at one point the
        police fired warning shots at the crowd that clearly served to scare
        the judge.

        IV. The Court’s Sentencing:

        During the Court’s preliminary sentence on February 16, 2007, the
        Court barred US Embassy personnel who had traveled the two hours from
        Managua from the courtroom. On February 21, 2007, when the Court was
        to give the full basis for its ruling and sentencing, the Judge never
        appeared. Instead, the Judge had a clerk read her decision to those
        present in the Court. Although we hope to have full transcripts of the
        trial and the sentencing within days, this is what we know:

        The Court disqualified rejected the testimony of Ricardo Castillo —
        an internationally recognized journalist. Her verdict also required
        her to reject the sworn testimony of Nick Purdy, of Rossy Aguello and
        of Eric. She also refused to credit the testimony of the medical
        examiners that testified that none of the evidence at the scene could
        be linked to Eric – specifically, the evidence that the blood, fluids       
        and hair samples collected had no connection to Eric. She refused to
        accept any evidence of the phone records that showed Eric was on a
        telephone conference call in Managua with a business associate in
        Atlanta. She discredited and ignored the cell site records and the
        instant messaging notes provided by Mr. Purdy. Instead, the judge
        relied on the testimony of admitted drug addict Lopez-Danglas, who had
        been charged with the murder and released after being given full
        immunity in exchange for his testimony against Eric. The judge also
        appears to have relied on a picture of Eric that she claimed showed he
        had a scratch on the back of his shoulder. She relied on this even
        though the physical evidence showed that the victim had no blood under
        her fingernails, and therefore, did not scratch her assailant, and in
        the face of Eric’s testimony that he was scratched there as a result
        of carrying Doris’ coffin during her funeral services.

        Despite the lack of any supporting physical evidence, despite the fact
        that ten people saw Eric in Managua when Doris was killed, despite the
        fact that Lopez-Danglas is a known (indeed, admitted) drug addict,
        despite the fact that Lopez-Danglas testified in return for full
        immunity after having been charged with the murder, and despite the
        medical examiner’s finding that Lopez-Danglas had scratches all over
        his body including his penis, the judge declared Eric guilty and
        sentenced him to thirty years.” Shelly Palmer

About Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Good Day New York, is a regular commentator on CNN and writes a popular daily business blog. He's a bestselling author, and the creator of the popular, free online course, Generative AI for Execs. Follow @shellypalmer or visit


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