NEWS

Mexican held in Canadian's beating was drunk, on drugs

01/28/2012 03:30 EST | Updated 03/29/2012 05:12 EDT

A Mexican man arrested in connection with the brutal beating of Canadian tourist Sheila Nabb says he was drunk and had been using cocaine on the night of the attack.

Authorities trotted out Jose Ramon Acosta Quintero, 28, and he spoke to reporters in both English and Spanish on Saturday. The state attorney from Sinaloa said Quintero accepted his guilt in a statement to authorities, admitting that he beat Nabb at a five-star resort in Mazatlan last weekend.

His statement about his alcohol and drug use was delivered in Spanish and reported in English by a translator.

On Friday, state attorney Marco Antonio Higuera Gomez said they had arrested a man who was identified through a blood sample.

Nabb, 37, was found unconscious last weekend in an elevator at the Hotel Riu, where she was staying with her husband.

Gomez said on Saturday that Quintero had stated that he and a Canadian friend had spent the early hours of Jan. 20 drinking heavily. When the beer ran out, they decided to head to the resort to keep drinking at the 24-hour bar there.

At Saturday's new conference, Quintero said in English that he took a separate elevator in the hotel and on one of the floors, a female guest entered. She was naked, he said.

Quintero said that he tried to talk to the woman and she answered normally and didn't seem to be angry or afraid.

But the two then argued, apparently because the Mexican man would not let her leave.

"When the elevator doors opened so she would step out, I put my hand on the door," the suspect said. "I wanted to keep talking to her.

"She got afraid when I wouldn't let her out. She started yelling, 'He won't let me out.'"

When she began to scream and call for help, the accused said he became scared. Quintero said he told the woman he was leaving, but she wouldn't stop screaming.

"I covered her mouth and said, 'Please don't yell,"' the suspect said. "But she continued yelling. She got more afraid when I covered her mouth.

"And then I hit her four or five times in the face with my fist, and then I left."

Through a translator, Quintero said, "I was very, very drunk." He also said he had been using cocaine.

Gomez said Quintero would likely be charged with attempted homicide. The suspect must be brought before a judge within 48 hours of being detained. There were no indications the victim had been sexually assaulted, the attorney general said.

The accused was known, according to police, to visit tourist establishments and become friendly with foreigners.

"This person was discovered by investigators," Gomez said. "[The suspect] has the ability to speak English very well, and often stays in the hotels and mingles with the tourists. That is [the theory] we are working on and fortifying."

Authorities are trying to find out whether Quintero was involved in other attacks on tourists, Gomez said.

Nabb now in Calgary hospital

Robert Prosser, Nabb’s uncle, said she arrived in Calgary on Friday morning via air ambulance, according to the Calgary Herald.

Prosser said her family is relieved she is back in the country and thanked everyone for their prayers. Nabb, who was raised in Nova Scotia, now resides in Calgary with her husband.

Investigators were unable to speak with Nabb, who can't talk due to her injuries.

"The victim could not identify the suspect," Gomez told Friday's news conference. "[Thursday] night she was transported with injuries to the chin and jaw bone while under sedation."

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