Eric Volz

Date of Crime:  November 21, 2006

Eric Volz, an American citizen, was convicted of the rape and murder of his Nicaraguan ex-girlfriend, Doris Jiménez. Jiménez had been found tied and strangled in the clothing store she owned in San Juan del Sur. Evidence established that Jiménez had been murdered between 11:45 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Nov. 21, 2006.

One man initially arrested for the crime, Nelson López-Danglas, had injuries to his penis and scratches on his neck, torso, forearms, and hands. At Volz's trial he stated that Volz asked to meet him at 1 p.m. in front of Jiménez's store and that Volz paid him 50 cordobas (approximately $3 US) to move two bags into a white car. In court López was visibly incoherent on the stand and appeared to be under the influence of narcotics. He admitted using drugs, but said he was “not a liar.” In return for this testimony, López was released and all charges against him were dropped. Jiménez's mother testified that Volz's family offered to pay her $1 million to drop the charges.

Volz claimed he was two hours away in Managua at the time of the crime, and that after hearing of the murder, he rented a car and drove to San Juan. Volz no longer lived in San Juan, having moved himself and his business to Managua. Victor Jose Morales Gutierrez, a Hertz Rent-A-Car employee, testified he delivered a rental car to Volz's house in Managua about 3 p.m. on of the day of the murder, but did not see Volz. He also testified that a friend of Volz wanted him to say that he saw Volz at the time of the car delivery. Volz did not claim he saw the delivery driver, but he did sign the rental receipts. The prosecution also presented an unsigned confession by another man, Julio Chamorro, claiming he saw Volz and Armando Llanes commit the crime. Chamorro did not testify and was unavailable for cross-examination. Llanes, who was from a wealthy Nicaraguan family, was never arrested for the crime.

Even though Volz says he had no less than ten alibi witnesses available, he was only allowed to have present four witnesses, including himself, to establish that he was in Managua at the time of the crime. The alibi witnesses who testified were prominent and had no known reason to be beholden to Volz. There were also car rental receipts and cell phone records that backed up these witnesses.

On the day of Volz's trial in the town of Rivas, there was a riot outside the courthouse in which Volz was chased and nearly killed by a street mob brandishing machetes. Also during the trial, police fired warning shots outside the courthouse allegedly to disperse the crowd. Such shots frightened the judge and may have been planned to intimidate the jury. Volz was sentenced to 30 years in prison, Nicaragua's maximum sentence.

In Dec. 2007, an appeals court composed of three judges overturned Volz's conviction. Two of the judges decided that he was not the killer and that local passions had prompted the conviction. They ordered Volz released. The third judge found deficiencies in the case that merited a retrial, but not Volz's release. Volz was subsequently deported to the United States by the executive branch of the Nicaraguan government.  [8/09]



Posted in:  Victims of the State, Cases in Other Countries