IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

‘I'm the most famous prisoner in the country’

An American magazine publisher convicted in Nicaragua of killing his ex-girlfriend says a judge had to have been feeling the pressure of a machete-wielding mob outside the courthouse demanding she find the “gringo” guilty.“I'm the most famous prisoner in the whole country. Everyone here knows who I am,” Eric Volz, 27, told NBC's Keith Morrison during an exclusive prison interview that aire
/ Source: TODAY

An American magazine publisher convicted in Nicaragua of killing his ex-girlfriend says a judge had to have been feeling the pressure of a machete-wielding mob outside the courthouse demanding she find the “gringo” guilty.

“I'm the most famous prisoner in the whole country. Everyone here knows who I am,” Eric Volz, 27, told NBC's Keith Morrison during an exclusive prison interview that aired Friday on TODAY.

Judge Ivette Toruno Blanco sentenced Volz to 30 years in prison after finding him guilty Feb. 21 of the Nov. 21, 2006 rape and murder of Doris Ivania Jiménez, his former girlfriend, in her dress shop in the coastal town of San Juan del Sur.

Volz insisted, from his very first contact with police officers investigating the killing, that he was working at his office in the Central American republic's capital of Managua, where he lived and published a bilingual magazine.

“The first question that the police asked me, when I was interviewed the night of her murder, was, ‘Eric, where were you today from 8 o'clock in the morning until the time you received this phone call saying that Doris was dead?’ ” Volz said. “And the first answer out of my lips to the police was that, ‘I was in my office at Managua.’ He then asked, ‘Do you have witnesses that can confirm this?’ ”

He did.

At least 10 witnesses placed Volz in Managua, a more than two hours’ drive, and there are transcripts of lengthy Internet instant message conversations he had with a friend in Atlanta throughout the day. Still, the judge dismissed the evidence as not credible and relied on the testimony of Nelson Lopez Dangla that Volz was at the crime scene on the day Jiménez was hogtied, raped and killed.

Dangla was originally charged with being an accomplice but was released in exchange for his testimony and was never tried. Another man, Julio Martin Chamorro, was also convicted of murder in the case. But during the trial, prosecutors never established any connection between him and Volz.

The motive?

Jiménez's family believes she was killed because of one of the oldest known motives for murder.

“I remember a conversation with my Doris, and she said, ‘Mama, I'm scared that Eric is going to kill me because he's really jealous,’ ” Mercedes Alvarado, Jiménez's mother, said in Spanish.

Volz insists he is innocent, and that he and Jiménez remained friends after they stopped dating.

“There's a lot of people that see this as the gringo who killed one of our beautiful women,” Volz said. “It's very simple. The judge was scared. If she had not convicted me and she had acquitted me that day, there would have been riots, and I guarantee she would have been threatened.”

Volz is awaiting his appeal in a maximum security prison called Tipitapa, about a half hour's drive from Managua.

— John Springer, TODAYShow.com contributor, and news reports