Police presented Jose Ramon Acosta Quintero, 28, to local and foreign journalists in the Pacific port city of Mazatlan on Saturday, where Sheila Nabb was attacked in the early hours of Jan. 20.
Thirty-seven-year-old Nabb, who was vacationing with her husband at the upscale Hotel Riu Emerald Bay, was found lying in a pool of blood in one of the resort's elevators.
Quintero was arrested Friday and charged with attempted murder.
Prosecutors have said investigators were led to to him by a hotel security video that showed him leaving the elevator where Nabb was attacked.
Sinaloa State Prosecutor Marco Antonio Higuera Gomez said Saturday that Quintero was drinking in local bars and had taken cocaine with a Canadian friend when they decided to go to one of the large tourist hotels where bars operate 24 hours.
He said Quintero frequents those hotels and sometimes goes by the name “Ray.”
Flanked by police on Saturday, Quintero spoke in fluent English as he answered a few questions from foreign reporters.
He said he entered the hotel from the back beach doorway and was taking an elevator up to the roof when the doors opened and Nabb got in. They talked and then he put his hand on the door, he said, to prevent her from leaving so they could keep talking.
"She got afraid when I didn’t let her out and she started yelling, 'He won’t let me out,”’ Quintero said.
“I got afraid also, because she’s a North American and I’m Mexican and I wasn’t supposed to be in the hotel.”
He said he covered her mouth as she continued to yell for help.
“Then I hit her four or five times in the face with my fist and then I left,” said Quintero, who swallowed nervously as he talked.
The attack on Nabb broke several bones in her face and requires her to undergo facial reconstruction surgery.
The Calgary resident has had her jaw wired shut and was in a medically induced coma for a couple of days in Mexico. She also had pneumonia.
Nabb was brought back to Calgary on Friday in a private air ambulance jet and was taken to a hospital in the city she and her husband call home.
“Yeah, I did it. I did, but it wasn’t planned or anything like that,” Quintero said in a soft voice.
“I didn’t try to abuse her, or I didn’t try to kill her or anything or rob her.”
Quintero said police had shown him a security camera video of him leaving the elevator, but he denied it showed him kicking Nabb. He said that possibly he was using his foot to move her hand out of the door so it would close.
The state prosecutor has said Quintero had Nabb’s blood on his shoes when he was arrested.
“I’m sorry and I hope that she recovers,” Quintero said before being led away by police. “I’ve seen the papers. Her face was bad.”
Nabb's family members, many of who live in Nova Scotia, have struggled to understand why anyone would attack her.
"She's very cheerful, friendly. She's just the nicest person you would ever want to meet. I mean everybody that met her liked her ... and she's always been like that," Nabb's uncle Robert Prosser has said.
"It's a big relief knowing she is back in Canada."
— with files from The Canadian Press.