Carmen Batiz-Bien Aime receives police award
By John Newton
Savannah resident, Carmen Batiz-Bien Aime received a citation from the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department (MNPD) last month but it wasn't the type they issue to law breakers. Fortunately for her, it was a commendation for service and was accompanied by a gold medallion along with a letter thanking her for her diligence in helping the MNPD solve a murder that had rested in their cold-case files for the past decade.
Carmen, originally from Sangrelaya, Colon, Honduras, works as a bilingual legal secretary for Savannah attorney, Joe Berrigan. She is married and the mother of two children but still finds time for extensive volunteer work in the local immigrant community with the Latin American Services Organization, her church and other groups.
In 2001, a Nashville Tennessee resident named Angel Dominguez was murdered by a gunshot wound to the chest in a drug deal that went sour. His roommate, Alejandro Cabrera, witnessed the shooting then escaped by jumping out of a bedroom window.
“The victim's brother continued to encourage the police to find the killer and in 2009, the case was revived when a jailhouse snitch told police he could identify the shooter,” Berrigan said. “The Nashville police thought they knew who the killers were, but the witness, Mr. Cabrera, had fled the country and returned to his home in Veracruz, Mexico.”
Next, the MNPD requested help from the Mexican Consulate who then turned to Attorney Berrigan since he had assisited them with other criminal investigations in the past.
“My colleague, Pedro Marquez Chavez of the Consulate's Protection Department was able to track down the witness after much effort,” Berrigan said. “But the consulate doesn't provide translation services so the MNPD asked my office for help. Carmen aided Det. Mike Roland in interviewing the Mr. Cabrera, and when it became apparent that he might be able to ID the shooter and the accomplice, they began arrangements to show him a photo line-up and that is where it got complicated.”
Using his past experience, Berrigan then arranged an interview in a room on the International Bridge in Brownsville, TX.
“This way, the witness didn't have to get a visa to enter the US and the detective did not have to
leave the country,” Berrigan said. “The witness positively identified two men from a photo lineup and provided sufficient evidence for the police to move forward with sending the case to the DA for an indictment.”
These efforts involved many long hours of bilingual phone conversations and throughout the process Carmen Batiz-Bien Aime went above and beyond her responsibilities in providing assistance to the police.
“I am very proud of Carmen,” Berrigan said. “She is an excellent employee but she's also just a beautiful person with a very giving heart. Thanks to her efforts, the victim's brother and the Mexican witness have both been certified as being helpful to the police, so they can apply for a U-visa that will give them legal status in the US. And hopefully justice will be served in this long-running murder investigation.”