Former police captain convicted of
ST. THOMAS, V.I. – Former police captain, Enrique Saldana, was
remanded to the Bureau of Corrections Friday afternoon, minutes after a jury
found him guilty of killing his wife almost three years ago.
five days of testimony and after three hours of deliberation, jurors
unanimously convicted Saldana, 53, of New Quarter, of one count each of second-degree
murder, second-degree assault and two counts of third-degree assault, all
crimes of domestic violence, in connection with the May 2, 2014, death of his
wife, Jeanette Magras-Saldana, 43.
Superior Court Judge Michael Dunston has set May 3 as the date for Saldana’s
Claude Earl Walker expressed his satisfaction at the outcome.
“I am very proud of
my prosecution team and the entire Magras family because the cards were stacked
against us from the very beginning, but through the desire to achieve justice
for Jeanette we did not relent,” AG Walker said in a statement. “Jeanette was a
beautiful lady with her whole life ahead of her, but she was miserably
oppressed by Saldana. The evidence shows that in her final days she sensed that
she was going to be killed and that Saldana will be her killer. It was almost
as if she was crying out deliver me from the hand of the wicked, from the
clutches of my oppressor. Saldana murdered his wife just to heal his enlarged,
bruised ego and so, now that the jury has found him guilty of second degree
murder he deserves to spend the rest of his life in jail and that will be our
recommendation at sentencing.”
on the testimony of at least 20 witnesses, prosecutors proved that Saldana
drugged his wife causing her to be debilitated, beat her and then killed her.
the course of the trial, the nine men and six women of the jury heard several
witnesses testify that Saldana was insanely jealous of his wife and as a
result, he wielded control over her, deciding the clothes she should wear,
telling her what to do and demanded that she change her gym schedule from five
days per week to three days.
domination continued during the time he was off-island, Nicole Turnbull, Jeanette
Magras-Saldana’s manicurist and her confidante, testified.
“He was still in
that controlling way and even more so off-island,” Turnbull said. “She was extremely frustrated; she was upset
because even though he was off-island, he was still trying to run the show.”
Saldana returned to the island in 2014
having spent several years in federal prison after being convicted of conspiracy to commit extortion and extortion, and the
Virgin Islands charges of conspiratorial extortion, extortion under color of
official right, conflict of interest, and solicitation and receipt of a bribe.
“Just before he returned to the
island, she was a nervous wreck,” Turnbull said. “She got even more jittery,
more frustrated, overwhelmed and it just got increasingly worse. She knew he
was coming back on-island.”
On his return to the island,
Turnbull added, Saldana’s control increased. “She couldn’t deal with the
control from the defendant anymore… and she wanted a divorce,” Turnbull said.
Another of Jeanette Saldana’s friend,
Alberto Robles, told the court on more than one occasion, he saw Saldana
watching Jeanette Saldana. Robles lived
next door to Jeanette Magras-Saldana.
“There was a time when I saw him
walk from the street to and from the house,” Robles said. “I told Jeanette I saw him watching her… and
she was in shock.”
Jeanette Saldana’s niece, Alana Urena, who
spent time at her aunt’s house, recalled Saldana coming to the house
Jurors also heard the testimonies of
Cory Isaac and Odette Magras, who recounted the events of the last night they
saw Jeanette Magras-Saldana alive. Isaac
and Magras were partying with the Saldanas on the night of May 1, 2014; they
were drinking wine and dancing.
“I left the house about 12 or 12:30
that night. Everybody gave hugs and
kisses and we said we’ll see each other in the morning,” Isaac told the court.
Odette Magras, Jeanette
Magras-Saldana’s cousin, remembered leaving the party sometime after midnight.
“I said my goodbyes and told her
‘see you tomorrow.’ We were all supposed to go to Lindquist Beach for a family
get together,” Odette Magras said. The next day, May 2, 2014, Odette Magras
received the dreaded news that Jeanette Magras-Saldana was dead.
On the morning of May 2, 2014, Saldana
called 911 to report that his girlfriend wasn’t breathing and that he needed
assistance to go to the hospital; he was in the area of Food Center at the
time. An off-duty police officer, Cpl. Bernard Burke who heard the
transmission, met Saldana at the hospital and helped him remove Jeanette
Magras-Saldana from the jeep Saldana was driving.
In a video interview with police,
Saldana told investigators that he was at his wife’s house on May 1, 2014 and
he saw her take a handful of sleeping pills on two separate occasions. He said Jeanette
Magras-Saldana fell on her way to the kitchen and she wiped her bloodied nose
with a piece of tissue, which she disposed into the toilet. Then, early in the
morning of May 2, 2014, they went to Vessup’s Beach at Jeanette Magras-Saldana’s
request. While at the beach, Jeanette
Magras-Saldana fell down, he tried lifting her up and she yelped in pain. She also fell at least twice against the
vehicle and as she was coming out of the water, she stopped breathing, he said.
At the hospital, medical staff took
27 minutes trying to revive Jeanette Magras-Saldana, but were unsuccessful.
Medical Examiner Dr. Francisco Landron, who performed the autopsy on Jeanette
Magras-Saldana, testified that she died as a result of acute diphenhydramine, a
substance which is marketed as Benadryl. According to a toxicology report, the
diphenhydramine level in Jeanette Magras-Saldana’s body was 7,900
nanograms, which was considered a fatal level of concentration.
Dr. Landron also noted that Jeanette Magras-Saldana’s body
bore multiple bruises and contusions, including two large bruises on the left
breast, one large bruise around the chin and several bruises on both arms.
“All bruises are the result of an
impact caused by a blunt force object, such as a punch, a kick,” he said.
By the time Jeannette Magras-Saldana
arrived at the hospital, rigor mortis had already set in and her body
temperature was recorded at 95.6, which meant that she was dead for about two
to four hours, Dr. Landron told jurors. Saldana told police that she was alive
15 minutes before he brought her to the hospital.
“Today, I stand
before you seeking justice for Jeanette Saldana. I ask that you do justice in this matter. I
ask that you return a verdict of guilty on each and every count,” Assistant
Attorney General Quincy McRae implored the jurors in his closing arguments.
Attorneys General Ednin Martinez and Nadja Harrigan also argued the case for