7-Years Later Jury Believes Death was Overdose and Not Strangulation
by David Greene
Twelve jurors hearing evidence in an alleged strangulation murder have taken the defense attorney’s alternative theory that despite severe bruising and a rocky relationship, the woman died from a cocaine overdose.
The accused killer Cesar Villavicencio, an investment banker walked out of the Bronx Hall of Justice a free man after being found not guilty of second degree murder on Friday, February 3.
Villavicencio was charged in the September 16, 2009 death of his on-again, off-again girlfriend Pamela Stockwell, who was found dead inside Villavicencio’s Bolton Avenue apartment in the Pelham Parkway section.
Villavicencio had claimed she died in the fifteen minutes it took him to buy a pack of cigarettes.
According to Stockwell’s best friend Kay Cardona, who was “furious” about the decision, explained, “The ADA had been on and off the case for the seven years and he’s very good and knowledgeable on the law and medicine and the anatomy and he did an excellent job in his presentation.”
But Cardona made several bombshell claims including a detective at the 49th Precinct who lost a notebook with all his notes on the case, the victims laptop was dropped off at the same Eastchester Road station-house and was never seen again and a second computer belonging to the suspect, was stored at a warehouse in Brooklyn that was destroyed during Hurricane Sandy.
“Seven years later,” Cardona fumed, “the lead detective couldn’t really remember, he had to keep referring to his notebook and he couldn’t find his notes on the case, it was ridiculous.”
Arraigned on second degree murder in February, 2010, Villavicencio posted the $30,000 bond of his $130,000 bail and fled to Argentina, where he was held in an Argentina jail before federal marshals brought him back to New York in February, 2015.
The Department of Justice, the U.S. Marshal Service and the F.B.I. all spent time and resources working on the case.
Villavicencio reportedly hired and fired three lawyers, Cardona claims was the defendants attempt to delay the trial.
Cardona also claimed Stockwell had just beat breast cancer a second time and had just had reconstructive surgery and “was looking forward to getting out and dating” again.
Detectives would show Cardona a photo of Villavicencio taken hours after Stockwell’s death, adding, “He looked like he hadn’t slept in days, he really looked like hell.” The assistant district attorney never bothered to call Cardona nor any of Stockwell’s friends or family members to the witness-stand detailing their rocky relationship.
Cardona believes it was a mistake to give the case to the jury on the Friday before Super Bowl Sunday, claiming, “They wanted to be with their families… they just wanted to get out of there.”
Cardona says, “Now its open season. This verdict, these 12 people and half of them were female, have said its O.K. for a male to kill a female if she happens to not be of the highest caliber” person.
In a telephone interview, defense attorney Earl Ward stated, “It wasn’t about anything the police did, this was a case where the medical examiner’s office screwed-up. They came to the diagnosis of death by strangulation and she died of a drug overdose, so this was really a case about the mistakes made by the medical examiners office. So this was the right decision.”
Asked about the trauma to Stockwell’s body, Ward replied, “There was trauma to her neck, no doubt about that, but the trauma didn’t kill her and all the other telltale signs of strangulation were missing,” including no breakage of bones or capillaries.
Ward added, “Were talking about a guy with no record or history of violence and this was his best friend.”
Ward said of his client, “He’s a citizen of the United States and he just wants to resume his life and move on. Yes, he’s happy, but he’s been through an enormous ordeal.”
Attempts to reach the two lead detectives investigating the case were unsuccessful as both have since retired from the NYPD.
The Bronx District Attorney declined to comment on the case and was unable to produce the original indictment for Villavicencio’s case.
Julie Bolcer, a spokeswoman for the NYC Office of Chief Medical Examiner, stated, “According to the medical examiner’s report, the cause of death is asphyxia due to compression of neck. The manner of death is homicide.
Like the Bronx District Attorney’s office, Bolcer was unable to comment on the outcome of the trial.
Villavicencio was convicted of bail-jumping, but was released because of the time behind bars he had already served.
In a follow-up interview Cardona, a domestic violence survivor and advocate stated, “If I’m murdered I just hope its not here in the Bronx.”
Statistics reveal that even as the murder rate in New York City has declined, domestic violence homicides continue to rise. The five boroughs of New York City see an average of 68 domestic violence killing’s each year.