Colorado Springs private eye Bobby Brown is fighting to free "the most hated American in Nicaragua" in the aftermath of a murder conviction that Brown says was riddled with bias and inconsistencies.
"It was a shoddy investigation from the start," Brown says of the trial of Eric Voltz, who on Feb. 21 was sentenced to 30 years in Nicaraguan prison for the brutal strangulation of Doris Jimenez last year in her San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, boutique.
Brown, a former El Paso County homicide detective, is working closely with Voltz's father, urging national political and Catholic leaders to join a campaign to convince the Nicaraguan government to review the case.
He is also scouring the case's evidence while working to dredge up new evidence that could exonerate Voltz.
"We're doing everything we can to get this sorted out," said Brown.
Brown runs a bail bonds business in Colorado Springs and a for-profit unsolved murder squad. He occasionally gets involved in national issues.
This case, which has sparked international headlines, grabbed Brown's attention because Voltz had attempted to bridge cultural differences with Nicaraguans, but instead became the center of intense animosity.
"His heart was in those people," Brown says.
Investigators initially focused on three men and Voltz, 27, a real-estate agent from Sacramento, Calif., who also published the bilingual El Puente cultural tourism magazine. They soon eliminated one man like Voltz, a boyfriend of Jimenez who produced documentation that he was registering for college classes at the time of the murder. Another suspect was offered a deal by prosecutors in exchange for testimony against Voltz and another man.
Jimenez was killed on Nov. 21 sometime between 11:45 a.m. and 2 p.m., according to various reports. A printed log of instant messages obtained by Brown shows Voltz conversing online with a colleague in Atlanta from 10:21 a.m. until 1:16 p.m.
Journalist Richard Castillo additionally placed Voltz in Managua, the Nicaraguan capital, during a meeting around noon, according to Brown, as did several other witnesses. Managua is more than a two-hour drive from San Juan del Sur.
Yet a Nicaraguan judge discounted such evidence during the trial while ignoring other facts, such as a lack of physical evidence, Brown says.
"They collected 103 hairs at the crime scene, and not one was Eric's," Brown says.
Voltz repeatedly has professed his innocence, even alleging on national TV that the judge who found him guilty on Feb. 21 was motivated by fear that riots would erupt.
"There were reports all over the news in Nicaragua that Eric confessed," Brown says. "Eric has never confessed to this crime. He didn't do this crime."
During a court date, Voltz was pictured in a Latin American newspaper wearing a bulletproof vest. Prior to the verdict, several members of Congress wrote to the State Department, raising concern that the judicial system faced pressure to find Voltz guilty.
"We were particularly disturbed to learn that, at his arraignment, there was a lynch mob blocking Eric's entrance and exit to the court and that a majority of police officers who were assigned to his protection fled before the mob, leaving Eric to run for his life," stated a letter signed by nine members of Congress, including Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colo.
The Nicaraguan embassy to the United States in Washington, D.C., was unprepared to comment at press time.
Brown said he anticipates in coming weeks that bringing evidence to the attention of officials will intensify concerns for Voltz.