Public outrage against foreigner threatens fairness of trial set for January 24
UPDATE 2/19/07: TRIAL COURT SAYS VOLZ IS GUILTY The Tennessean reports in this article that Nicaraguan authorities have charged Nashvillian Eric Volz with murder. He is being held in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua for a trial on January 27.
"A Nashville native whose father was a bassist for the once-popular Christian rock band the 77s is jailed in Nicaragua on charges that he and another man killed his former girlfriend, according to the Spanish-language newspaper El Nuevo Diario."
"Meanwhile, friends and family of Eric Volz are fighting a legal battle here, proclaiming his innocence and accusing the Nicaraguan government of falsely arresting him."
"Volz, son of musician Jan Eric Volz, is the editor of a Nicaraguan bilingual magazine, EP Magazine, according to the family's Web site, www.friendsofericvolz.com."
According to the family's site, "From a legal perspective, there is little doubt that Eric is getting disparate treatment and that there is serious prejudice against him because he is an American." The local Nicaraguan newspaper El Nuevo Diario reports that Volz was nearly lynched when being moved from place to place by the authorities. El Nuevo Diario may even have taken an intentional jab at Uncle Sam with this mention on the front page of its web site of the U.S. census report painting U.S. residents as the most overweight in the world, setting records in the time we spend eating, drinking, and watching TV.
It is not difficult to imagine that the image of the American foreigner in Nicaragua has been tarnished by anti-immigrant or anti-American rhetoric in the wake of Volz's arrest. Anti-immigrant sentiment is also a concern in the U.S. criminal justice system, as reported previously by the Tennessean (story available on Google via this search). Middle Tennessee examples of American nativism in general were most recently catalogued in this cover story in the Nashville Scene. And the Nashville City Paper has reported extensively on high-profile crimes by illegal immigrants (one story here) and the various measures and other reactions that have resulted.
Unless he is found innocent in the upcoming murder trial on January 24, it may not be possible in the end to determine whether anti-immigrant or anti-American sentiment determines his fate.
update 1/24/07: The Nashville City Paper summarized the situation before the trial in this story.
update 2/9/07: The Nashville City Paper reports here that a new trial date has been set.
update 2/19/07: The Nashville City Paper reports here that Volz has been found guilty. The San Antonio Express-News has more detail in this article.