MAZATLAN, Mexico – Mexican authorities are standing by their arrest in the savage beating of a Canadian tourist after the man accused told a local newspaper he was forced to sign a confession he never read.
Jose Ramon Acosta Quintero, 28, has admitted he hit Sheila Nabb in a hotel elevator, but denied he wanted to kill her and said he never expected to be charged with attempted murder.
“I know that they (the authorities) need to clean up Mazatlan’s image because it was a Canadian tourist, I understand that, but even if they charge me with a lesser offence (than attempted murder), they still clean up the image, they already have me in here,” he said in a jailhouse interview with the newspaper Noroeste.
In the interview, he described being forced to sign two confessions, including one stating he meant to kill Nabb, as authorities allegedly swore at him, telling him to stop asking questions and sign the document because “it’s late and we want to go home.”
“So I have no idea what my confession says,” Quintero said, adding he was never allowed to read it or speak with a lawyer.
When he was presented the second statement, he told the newspaper, he protested that he’d never said he wanted to kill Nabb but he was told to sign it anyway.
The person in charge told him that didn’t matter, Quintero said, that his signature was simply required to show that he’d seen the document.
Martin Gastelum, a spokesman with the state attorney’s office in Mexico, declined to respond to Quintero’s allegations, saying the police and prosecutors had done their job, and done it well.
“We’ve gathered all the evidence available, put forward an accused, and presented all the evidence against him,” Gastelum said Tuesday in an interview with The Canadian Press.
“It will be up to the judge to review and validate the evidence, and determine whether that is enough to find him guilty and sentence him. It’s now in the hands of the courts.”
Gastelum added that everything police found led them to Quintero.
“He had in his home clothes stained with Sheila Nabb’s blood, among other evidence that we found against him.”
Nabb, 37, had been vacationing with her husband at the upscale Hotel Riu when she was found lying in a pool of blood in one of the resort’s elevators.
Quintero was arrested Friday and presented to the media in a news conference the following day. At that time, prosecutors said investigators were led to him by a hotel security video that showed him leaving the elevator where Nabb was attacked.
Quintero has said he ran into Nabb, who he says was naked, in her hotel’s elevator after he and a friend sneaked in to have some drinks at the bar.
He said the two started talking and he blocked the door because he was drunk and wanted to chat some more, but panicked when she started screaming and he hit her.
Gastelum dismissed speculation over Nabb’s state of dress at the time of the attack, noting that by the time investigators got to the scene, she’d already been transported to hospital.
“We have never said what condition she was in — whether she was clothed or naked. That never came out of us,” he said.
“One, because we weren’t there to see it, and also, we would never disclose that kind of information out of respect for her personal dignity.”
Nabb is now back in Calgary. Her family was not immediately available for comment.
— By Romina Maurino in Toronto.