continued The Nicaraguan court that eventually convicted Volz did not allow Volz's alibi to be entered as legal testimony. In contrast to the case against him, that alibi seems incontrovertible. It is well stated by Noah Goodman, the managing editor of El Puente magazine, in his MySpace blog and a letter he sent to his friends. Goodman was Volz's friend and former colleague on several documentary projects in San Diego. He, too, graduated from UCSD. In El Puente's early start-up period, Volz asked Goodman to come down to Nicaragua to take over the managing editor job.
Goodman begins his letter by describing the success El Puente had begun to show. "All of this was thrown to a halt, though, when on the afternoon of November 21 we received a call that Doris Ivana Jiménez, Eric's former girlfriend, was found dead in her store in San Juan del Sur." At first, writes Goodman, "they were saying it was a suicide," and word came that "a crowd had gathered in front of her store where her dead body lay as people gawked and waited for the police to arrive."
In Managua, Volz rented a car and drove immediately to San Juan. When he got there, Volz wanted to help in any way he could, writes Goodman. "Eric was in the middle of the whole situation, working with the police, spending time with the family, and trying to figure out what had happened. He insisted on helping pay for Doris's body to be sent to Managua to get a more professional autopsy than the coroner in Rivas (the district seat about 30 minutes outside of San Juan) was able to provide and for the funeral, which was to be held two days later.... After [Jiménez] was buried, Eric had gone to the police station to continue to discuss the case with them. Upon arriving there, the police announced that they were arresting him for the murder of Doris and hauled him away in handcuffs. We were shocked and afraid for Eric."
That night in Managua, writes Goodman, "we [the magazine's staff] were told that all of us might be wanted as accomplices to murder, [so] we left the office to stay at a friend's house and [tried] to figure out what we were going to do.... We didn't know how to react and were genuinely afraid of being caught up in a witch hunt that could put us all behind bars.... The next morning, we piled into a cab and headed for the El Puente office, which was also where [Eric and I] lived. We knew that the police would be waiting for us and we were nervous as hell, but also knew that we had nothing to hide. When we showed up, Martha, the maid who worked at the office, informed us that the police had already tried to enter the house, but that she hadn't let them in because they didn't have a search warrant, but that they were sitting on the corner watching the house. We sat in the house trying to keep ourselves busy...but all the while waiting for the police to come barging in.
"The lawyers that were helping Eric told us to gather all the people that had been in the house on the day that Doris was murdered and that they would send someone to pick us up and transport us to Rivas where Eric was being held so that we could make statements as to Eric's whereabouts on that day. All in all there were 10 people that had seen Eric in Managua [at the time of Doris's murder], including myself. I was there when he awoke around 9 in the morning and came out of his room across the hallway from mine...and was with him the whole day until he left for San Juan around 5 pm after we heard the news of Doris's death."
Goodman goes on to list the other people who had seen Volz that day, including "all the workers at El Puente, a representative of Etica y Transparencia, the group that oversaw the [latest] Nicaraguan elections, an internationally known Nicaraguan journalist who has worked with the New York Times and BBC among many other publications, and the hair stylist who had arrived for a previously set appointment to cut hair at the house and was with us when we received the call. We were sure that this would be more than ample evidence to prove that Eric had been nowhere near the scene of the crime [on the day of the murder]...."
But in Rivas the arraignment and preliminary hearing went forward. Goodman and his friends went to the preliminary hearing on December 7, but neither they nor representatives from the U.S. Embassy were allowed in the courtroom. At the same time, writes Goodman, "a mob of several hundred angry people had amassed outside of the courthouse calling for them to bring out the gringo so that they could deliver 'justice' upon him. We had gotten word the day before that cars with loud speakers mounted on top had been driving through town calling for people to come out to the trial, and that buses had been hired to transport them from San Juan to Rivas. In the days between the arraignment and the preliminary hearing a well-planned smear campaign had hit the pages of El Nuevo Diario, one of the two national newspapers, printing complete lies about Eric (including such gems as they found three fake passports on Eric, that he had confessed to the crime but the U.S. Embassy had stepped in and told him to retract his statement, and that his family had tried to bribe Doris's mom with $1 million to silence her).
"Doris's mom, who had worked for the Sandinista party organizing rallies, with the help of one of El Nuevo Diario's 'journalists'...had started to do everything in their power to convince the public of Nicaragua that Eric was guilty....
"[After the hearing]... despite the previous knowledge that there would be a mob waiting for Eric upon his departure from the courthouse, the police failed to provide any real security for Eric. The original plan for getting Eric out of there was for me to go running out the front of the courthouse and distract attention while they moved him in a car of one of the girls that worked with him.... The police stated that they had no cars available to transfer him to the jail. When confronted by the mob (where at least one person was spotted brandishing a pistol) as they moved into the streets with Eric, the police disappeared, leaving Eric and the chief of security of the U.S. Embassy to flee for their lives, ducking into the back of a nearby casino and eventually taking an hour to move the two blocks from the courthouse to the police station."