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[00:00:04]

You're looking good. It's May 29th, 2004, graduation day at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The U.S. Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, stands on a stage in a football stadium squinting into the crowd.

[00:00:24]

It's a privilege to be here in the shadows of some of the greatest leaders of our age and to celebrate today with the leaders who will follow in their footsteps.

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Rumsfeld is speaking to about 900 graduating cadets. They wear clean white hats and gray wool jackets. Scattered among the graduates are about 50 who are a little different from the rest. They're part of West Point's little known foreign cadet program.

[00:00:56]

They're the international students, essentially, Westpoint aims to instill in them a familiarity with and a respect for the U.S. military. Dozens of allied countries participate in it. The idea is that those countries end up with well-educated future leaders. The United States also gets something out of this program, future foreign counterparts who have a relationship with the U.S. military on a personal level.

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Rumsfeld knows the value in grooming these cadets, even gives them a shout out in his speech.

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They come from all across this great country and from, I'm told, American Samoa, Cameroon, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Jordan.

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That nod to Honduras actually refers to a single student, David Castillo. He's spent the past four years here taking the exact same classes as his American counterparts, doing the same military drills, living in the same barracks and cheering at the same football games. Rumsfeld reminds them all that the purpose of everything they've endured is to become leaders. He urges all of the graduates to set positive examples for anyone who might look up to them in the years ahead.

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Use the skills you've learned here to bring out the very best in them, including respect for others, and always fall back on the moral clarity of the honor code that you've learned here.

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This ceremony comes at a time when America's war on terror is at its height and soon after the graduates tossed their white hats in the air. Many of them will be deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.

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But David Castillos future will be nothing like those of his classmates. It will lead him back to Honduras, where he'll rise through both the military and business worlds.

[00:03:04]

And after his path intersects with Berta Casares, it will take a detour, one that ends in a prison cell. My name is Monte Reel for Bloomberg Green. In this episode, we'll go into that prison cell. We'll talk to David Castillo and hear the story of executive number three, the CEO who stands accused of masterminding paratus murder. David hasn't publicly told his full story before, his defense is adamant and unyielding, and it aims to upend almost everything you've heard so far in this series.

[00:03:57]

This is Blood River. David's mother, Dinora, grew up in Honduras, but she was always surrounded by American culture. Her father worked for the United Fruit Company, one of the two dominant American banana corporations in the country. Dinora attended the American school in her town, then she graduated college, got married, and when she was 23 years old, she gave birth to David. I actually studied law, but I never worked as a professional in law, my husband didn't want me to go into that because he went with me one day to go to a prison in San Pedro Sula.

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I was taking this case. I had taken this case for a person that was there and.

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It was after visiting hours that we came out, he had accompanied me and then a whole bunch of men started saying all these different things.

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And so he said, well, I'm sorry to tell you that you will not be able to continue in your profession.

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You better find something else.

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So Dinora got a master's degree in education as well as a divorce. She landed a job teaching at the oldest American school in Honduras, the same school her son eventually would attend. This was in the town of La Sabha on the country's north coast.

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This school was founded in the 1920s by the Standard Fruit Company. It's the other big American banana company in Honduras.

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Basically, all production in the town was very much based on standard food company operations.

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Samir Sergi was one of David's classmates. He wasn't only my classmate. He was my best friend because he was my neighbor, actually. He lived three houses, four houses from my house.

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Most of the places in Honduras that we visited so far in this podcast have been marked by poverty and a glaring lack of reliable infrastructure.

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This neighborhood has some amenities like those you might see in an American suburb.

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We had a golf club near our house, so we went to the golf club. I play tennis and golf. He played golf. I remember we had the first cars, the first golf cars were starting to come into to our town because everybody just before everybody just walked the the 18 holes and we started with the with the cars. And it was a lot of fun.

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David liked sports, but Samir says math, science and computers were more his thing. He was the smart guy.

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He was the I won't say I think it's wrong to say a nerd, but he was very he was always the guy that was interested in in getting his best grades and applying always.

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David had never shown any interest in the military growing up, at least none that his friends and family ever noticed. But he knew about West Point's foreign cadet program several years before another student from his high school had been selected for it.

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West Point was a premier academic institution with a top shelf engineering program. David decided that's where he wanted to go.

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The U.S. embassy in Honduras handled the application process when David was called in for interviews and for testing, Samir sometimes tagged along. I remember we went to the physical tests and I remember I was with another of our close friends, Carlos, and we were there, both of us like looking at him.

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And I remember I think it was a three minute up test to see how many pushups he could do in three in three minutes. And I remember he did like it was a very small amount. And we were like, man, you know what?

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You're not getting in. I mean, you suck.

[00:08:37]

He started exercising every day and he was determined to get that because my dad also insisted that's the best thing that you can get. If you're able to get that scholarship, you will have the doors open in all the world. David got in the doors to West Point, opened for him in the summer of 2000. He was in a new country with new friends and a strict new routine. Wake up was probably around 6:00 a.m. where we both wake up together, get ready for the day and have formation about six thirty, that's where all the cadets get together and line up outside of the barracks.

[00:09:19]

Doesn't matter the temperature and march to breakfast. And then we would all sit down and have breakfast together.

[00:09:26]

Travis Dence from Columbus, Ohio, was one of David's roommates at West Point. They became close friends.

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David spent his days working toward a degree in electrical engineering. He was on the sailing team and in the Honor Society. In the evenings, he'd talk on the phone with his girlfriend and future wife, Tanya. David had an obligation to return to the Honduran military after graduation, but he delayed that move. Instead, he relocated to the Washington, D.C. area and enrolled in graduate school at the University of Maryland. While there, he interned at a technology company that developed communication systems to Travis David's West Point roommate.

[00:10:12]

This choice to study and to dip his toe into the business world seemed natural because David always struck him as more of a future businessman than a future soldier.

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Because we both were kind of passionate about entrepreneurship and and thinking about different ideas that we could bring to life, and this was also in the start of I mean, we're looking at 2002 to 2004 when the Internet was kind of just becoming popular. Yes, we had AOL and things like that, but now it was at a massive scale and we would talk about different ways that we could leverage and help and do different companies to to to grow along that that path.

[00:10:56]

David returned to Honduras in 2006 and entered the military. His rise through the ranks was nothing short of meteoric. But he didn't exactly start at the bottom. He was the assistant to the country's intelligence director.

[00:11:14]

Soon after that, he was picked to be the assistant to the secretary of defense when the Honduran military was tasked with restructuring the country's electrical utility company.

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David oversaw part of that project there. He was perfectly positioned to help lead the country's push toward renewable energy projects. I think he's a workaholic because he used to work every single day of the year. David at this point was 26 years old.

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During the same period, David also branched out into private enterprise. He was a majority shareholder in an electronics and computer company, for example, but by 2008, he was working full time at the electrical utility.

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This was around the time when the Honduran government began really pushing renewable energy in 2009, Dessa was formed. It got the rights to develop a hydroelectric project on the Google karki River and also to sell electricity to the state owned utility company where David worked.

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David's name wasn't attached to Dessa at that moment, but two years later, in 2011, David officially left the government to work for that hydro electric company. But he wasn't just any employee. He became decis president and was on the board of directors. David still kept in touch with a few of his friends from West Point, one of them, Marco Lakshya, remembers the first time David told him of his shift to the energy business.

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I was impressed, wow, you put up your own company and you're building like a hydroelectric plant. I'm like, wow, how did you learn all that? And he said, Well, I had great experience with the with the Honduran army.

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Travis, David's old roommate at West Point was equally amazed. David, I thought was and we would joke about it. I thought I was going to be the president of Honduras one day because of his ties and because of his his wanting to better the country and the way he talked about it in his growth within within the politic arena, renewable energy was attractive to lots of people.

[00:13:51]

In David's generation. It was an alternative to fossil fuels, a cleaner way to bring energy into people's homes. And there was money in it and lots of political momentum. Travis himself, after completing his military commitment, had started working in the renewables sector in Ohio. We talk to everything from solar to wind to hydro and the complications of hydro in United States versus Honduras, and then there was Samir, David's best friend from when he grew up in LA.

[00:14:26]

He, too, had ended up in the same field today. Samir is the executive director for Honduras's Renewable Energy Association.

[00:14:38]

David was in a perfect spot, his career seemed to be running on rails, and those rails were shuttling him straight towards success. His grandfather and his mother had been right. All the doors in the world were opening. David Castillo remembers the precise moment when he first became aware of Berta Casares. He'd already been president of Dassa for nearly two years. By this time. I know the exact date.

[00:15:16]

Actually, it's April 1st of 2013. This was the very first time that I heard the name Berrytown. At that time, Bhatta had just led a protest against Des's Iwazaki Dam project. David, who lived and worked in Tegucigalpa, the capital, traveled to the volcanic river to meet her. A few days later, he encountered her again at a meeting in a government office. He says they got along pretty well, but he says Berta's supporters were the problem.

[00:15:54]

He says it was clear they were itching for a fight. He says within weeks of that meeting, they began vandalizing his company's work site. Towards Slate in April of 2013, we began to see some sabotage. They began to cut the breaks from machinery, cut fuel supplies and contractors equipment.

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By June, they were trespassing the campsites and burning buildings.

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This was the summer when Rio Blanco turned violent, when Karpin protester Tomas Garcia was shot dead, and when Kristian Madrid, the boy whose family supported Dusa, was killed. And here's where David's version of events really begins to veer sharply from the accounts from Berta's colleagues, from the media, from prosecutors and from the international investigators who studied the case.

[00:17:01]

Bhatta is often credited with driving out Seno Hydro, the Chinese construction contractor the DSA had hired when Seno Hydro left it, put the project on hold and it forced DSR to relocate the dam. David says neither Berita nor the protesters caused Seno Hydro to leave. He insists that he is the one that did it, that Dessa terminated the company's contract after the violence broke out because he wasn't satisfied with Seno Hydro's work.

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He even says that some of his criticisms of the Hour Xhaka project in its earliest stages were valid and he blames Seno Hydro for them. Some of the concerns from the community of the Herath were legitimate, that Seno Hydro was not performing the social compensation's, two of them were not doing social management correctly.

[00:18:06]

David insists it's important that he and not the protesters drove the contractor out by making that point. He's suggesting that he and Berita on this matter at least saw eye to eye. He's also undermining the idea that the protests were successful and that Bhatta and Karpin had been the ones to paralyze the project.

[00:18:33]

In fact, David has a counterargument for almost everything Karpin has ever said about Auxois Zarka. One of the biggest arguments surrounding the project has to do with local support by law, if a project impacts indigenous communities.

[00:18:57]

Companies must consult with and get the approval from those residents.

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The protesters have always said that Dessa rushed through the approval process without serious consultations in the area.

[00:19:13]

David says that community consent is required only if the dam affects indigenous lands. He says this project did not do that. ADESA pursued local approvals anyway. He points to documents released by the International Development Banks that funded the project. RFMO, a bank from the Netherlands, sent a fact finding mission to the area and reported that local residents had signed letters of support for the project in both 2011 and again in 2014.

[00:19:49]

David says there are 11 separate communities within Rio Blanco, and he says 10 of them supported the dam. La Tahera, where Kopans base was centered, was the lone exception, these 10 communities, probably about 6000 people compared to this community and at the head that has a population of about 400 people.

[00:20:16]

But some residents there told me that Dessa went so far as to forge signatures to fake that community support. And their assertions were backed up by a report issued by a United Nations office that specializes in indigenous rights. The head of that group visited the area in 2015, and she later said that the communities had not been properly consulted. David insists all of that is an outright lie. He says his opponents are also lying when they talk about how special or sacred the GWAR Kak River is to them.

[00:20:56]

Bhatta often talked about this idea, the Hlinka indigenous community speaks of the river as being part of its ancestral traditions, traditions that were never written down, but that instead were passed on through ritual and oral repetition. David points out that RFMO, the development bank, also looked into this when they studied the project. The very first time that this was referred to as a sacred river was when Katrina referred to it sometime in around 2015 and 16.

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These are very sensitive points of dispute, but they're not nearly as sensitive as the one we're going to get into now.

[00:21:43]

David says that in 2014 or so, the nature of his relationship with Bhatta changed for the better. This was around the time that the Iwazaki project was modified and moved two kilometres upriver, he says. After that happened, Ian Bhatta spoke more as allies than as opponents. We do not have any tensions. The tensions were gone. This seems to defy reason. Even after the project was moved, Bhatta and Karpin still held occasional protests against the dam. They did so right up to the weeks before her murder.

[00:22:27]

So how can David say there were no tensions between them? It's because they had an unspoken understanding, he says, at this particular time, Berta's protests against Edessa were essentially for show. Orchestrated displays devoid of any real consequence, David claims Bhatta would stage these protests for visiting journalists and for international NGOs.

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He explains it this way If a protest group lycopene wants to raise funds, it has to show the outside world that it's embroiled in a hot and active conflict. He says Bhatta couldn't afford to portray its relationship with Dassa as friendly.

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He says his tacit deal with Bhatta at this time was that Karpin wouldn't hurt Dassa and Dassa wouldn't hurt Karpin. His job was to build a dam.

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Hers was to protest.

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I do not have any hard feelings because that's what they do. That's what they're supposed to be doing, protesting. And as long as they protest and it doesn't affect me, why would I have any hard feelings?

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It might be a difficult idea to absorb that the environmental activist and the developer whose project she continued to fight against could be civil towards each other or even more than that, that they could be genuinely close.

[00:24:11]

You have to separate the idea that Davik has to you as a person is assigned the project and that Berta Caceres is copying. David and Berta were really good friends. I think I got to have affection for her. I got to consider her my my good friend. And which you call you talk. Do you support you here when she had a concern? She called me when she had an emergency. She also called me when I had when I wanted to talk to her.

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I also called her and I requested that I wanted to to see her and not necessarily anything had to do with the project. OK, so that had coffee and decided that they might have been antagonists. But David and Burton were friends. David says sometimes he and Bhatta traveled together for fun one time as an example. We took a trip, a road trip together to a place called Central, the Lozoya US.

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It's a forested spot where the ground is marked by mysteriously deep holes. It's a local attraction near La Esperanza. Roberts's his hometown. He says he and Berta took a day trip there in 2015. They hired guides five or six local kids who showed them around. After that hike, they returned to La Esperanza and went to dinner. Then they hit a bar. They capped the evening with a cup of tea at her house and he returned to his hotel.

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David says this wasn't an unusual evening for them. She also regularly visited Tegucigalpa, the capital where David lived. He says he'd take her out to her favorite Mexican restaurant and the evening would evolve from there. After having dinner, we used to go across the street to to a bar called our Kawano, and sometimes she danced and she had some beer. We used to do this every month, once a month, once every two months. If she had traveled, she used to usually bring a gift to me from her travels.

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I recall that one time she brought me a jade medallion with a Mianne representation of a sort of zodiac sign that she said was my zodiac sign.

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He says she brought him a CD from Asia, a novel from Argentina and a bottle of grappa from Italy, and he returned the favors.

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I also supported her economically because I knew that she also had needs to give us a lot of money or a plane ticket or anything that would help her with her travels.

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David says he helped her buy a new vehicle for Gopin. He donated money so Burty could paint murals on the walls of Kopans Women's Health Center in Los Speranza. He says he even paid medical expenses for his mother and because of all of that, he says her murder was a complete surprise to him. He'd gotten a call early in the morning after she was killed. I was in shock.

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I could not believe it. I felt sad.

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But he says one thing he didn't feel was fear from the law. And throughout those two years following her murder, even his fingers pointed adesa. And at him, he says it never occurred to him that he'd be seriously considered a suspect.

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That's because, he says, he was perfectly innocent.

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In no way did I ever feel that was going to be arrested.

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That day I was detained, I was flying to Houston to see my family, which I did every two weeks. David is walking through an airport in northern Honduras. It's March 2nd, 2018, the two year anniversary of his death.

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David's wife, Tanya, and their three young daughters had been living in Houston for more than a year. David says this was for security reasons. Honduras had never felt safe. But he says that after coping began blaming Dessa for Bartosz murder, they decided to make a change. So David began splitting his time between the two countries flying back and forth.

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I check in India, the United, to get my plane ticket, I go to Customs and Immigration and they told me, listen, Mr. Gassier, you're not going to be able to travel today. And I said, why am I not going to be able to travel? Because you have a immigration alert and you you just can't travel. And when I hear that, I'm mad because I'm going to lose my flight. And I told them, listen, you have to tell me why I have an immigration alert.

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And they say, no, listen, we don't have that information.

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He walks to the police station inside the Honduran airport to try to figure out what's going on.

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So I'm talking to a police member when he goes on line and he says, oh, Mr. Castillo, you also have an arrest warrant. And I said, why?

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More officers arrive and they escort him to a vehicle. David says the atmosphere was confusing, but casual, he didn't resist and they didn't treat him like some sort of threat, they just explained that they were driving him to a prosecutor's office. So they left the airport. But on the road, one of the officers gets a phone call.

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The officer explains to David, we're going to have to go back to the airport and we're going to take your picture of you outside the airport. So I'm like, listen, I can't cooperate with you if you can do you can take me by force, but I'm not a trophy.

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It felt to him like a public relations stunt. It was the anniversary of Berta's murder. David believed the police wanted to show they were still interested in the case and he was paying the price. His defiance wouldn't change the fact that he was going to jail, David Castillo was charged with the murder of Buratha Casares, a woman that he says was his close friend and confidant. Father Ryan has traveled the Midwest accused of swindling millions, he's stolen people's money and their faith in a con that's lasted decades.

[00:31:57]

A new podcast called Smokescreen Fake Priest, hosted by me Alex Schulman, explores why he's never been brought to justice. Subscribe to find out what this white collar criminal has to say for himself to listen to this neonate show. Just search for smokescreen. Fake priest in Apple podcast or wherever you listen. Shortly after the arrest, David proclaims his innocence at an indictment hearing. He mentions that he had considered himself Roberts's friend to the members of Berta's family. This counternarrative is deeply offensive.

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They harbor no doubts whatsoever that he planned her death. Mata's daughter, Martita Izabel, remembers being in the courtroom that day, Arndale is to be more Élodie and secondary Castillo.

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When we were in the hearing with David Castillo, it was horrible because the only person in the family who went to this hearing was me.

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Well, first of all, it was uncomfortable to be in such a tiny room. Not all of the people who wanted to attend could because it was super small.

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But I had to be there and he was right there. And when he testified, he looked at me. He didn't speak to the judge. He spoke to me. He was looking at me.

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And so he was being the victim, the poor little thing, who was such a friend of my mother. And he was such a kind person with her and that he'd helped give her so many opportunities in life.

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So, yeah. Yeah. Um, which opportunely la vida. She says it was extremely uncomfortable to listen to him, yet also satisfying in a strange way to be able to look him in the eye and to be able to hear him tell his story out loud, it was valuable to her to listen to him speak. She says he measured his words and recited them calmly to her. It seemed as if he was following a memorized script.

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Battuta Izabel says her mother had talked to her about David. Berta told her that David was different from the others adesa, he spoke differently softly and with no apparent aggression. He didn't insult Berita. He'd ask about her children and he let her know that he was paying attention to them where they traveled when they were coming back. But Birgitta Izabel says her mother never really trusted David, that she always believed there was a sinister undercurrent to his kindness, as if he was cultivating her like an intelligence source, always probing for information and keeping tabs of what she was up to through Amasia as a personal person.

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She told me this sort of person is much more dangerous because it's not that he said outright that he's going to kill her, but she knew he was a stalker.

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Aminta KM, Petreus, Savea, Idella Kosala. Today, David's case still hasn't gone to trial, but his defense wants to prove that David and Bhatta were, in fact close.

[00:35:20]

They came up with almost 400 direct text messages sent between the two of them. The messages cover a period of almost three years right up until the weeks before Berita was killed. The texts do support the idea that they got along very well, at least most of the time. I appreciate our friendship. Bhatta wrote to him the year before she was killed, despite our differences. I've tried to trust you. David responded that he felt the same way. On rare occasions, she'd complain about his project or about other people involved in it.

[00:36:04]

A little less than a year before she died, she vented to him about RFMO. That's the development bank that said local communities had signed letters supporting the dam. Bater wrote to David about, quote, his friends saying the bank's representatives were miserable liars. But after some back and forth, she and David were on friendly terms by the next evening, they agreed they'd see each other again, and Bhatta seemed frankly playful. She wrote to David, and you'll give me permission to rob a kiss.

[00:36:41]

Nothing more. Just once. Even neither side has suggested there was a romantic relationship between them. Roberts's supporters say her text to him more playful and in character, with a personality that wasn't always serious.

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More importantly, her supporters say the texts uncovered by the defense team actually support their allegations. To them, the texts offer proof that Battah and David's relationship began to deteriorate in the fall of 2015. That's also when they say David and others began plotting her murder.

[00:37:22]

Berita and coping began ramping up their opposition to DSR with renewed protests and public denunciations around that time.

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David wrote to her in October, You say that you like me and your actions speak otherwise, you speak of dialogue, but the reality is different. He assures her he still considers her a friend, but by the 1st of December, he's writing her back. I see you've been busy. David tells her he then pastes a copy of some strong criticisms she recently made against his company.

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Bater writes him back, something else you want to tell me your response to her, only that I hope you're well and send many best wishes. Bater writes to him, Is this irony? Later that December, they exchanged friendly holiday greetings, but by February 2016, something appears to have changed. And remember, prosecutors allege that at this time, the accused killers had begun surveilling Bhatta and that they had already attempted to murder her in early February. Bater writes to David, saying she is, quote, disappointed, she says she thought maybe he really could be different from the wealthy elites who financially backed his project in the messages.

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She does not indicate what provoked her disappointment. David doesn't write her back for a couple of weeks, but when he finally does, his message comes two days after what investigators allege was that failed murder attempt. He writes her. What does that refer to? Difference. It appears he's referencing the message she sent, comparing him to the wealthy investors. She says, you know them, you know, and then she adds, how strange what you write to me, David responds, suggesting that he's a little confused.

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Yes, I know them very well. They're friends, but I don't know what you would think would be different. I know that I am very different, but I don't know what you think. He suggests that he was just trying to be friendly when he brought up her criticisms of his company. He writes, They told me that you went to visit Lazzara and it made me want to say hello to response. Seriously, you wanted to say hello to me or to fight after he assures her of his good intentions, Bater writes, I believe that there are people in your world who can have integrity.

[00:40:05]

I thought you could be one of those exceptions. I think you may be capable somewhere of having kindness, integrity, ethics and humanity. You can even give love and nice things, but you are also capable of being like those bastards from the comfort of a certain power and impunity from which you act. David again expresses his sincerity when she writes, I'm disappointed for many underlying reasons. And it's not that you are obligated to have anything to do with me or to even appear respectful, but I believed in you as a human being that even being from that shitty world, you could be different when he again insists they can maintain respect and friendship.

[00:40:58]

She asked him, Do you really believe what you're saying truly or do you want to pull my leg? This is the last day, February 8th, 2016, that Burton and David will exchanged text messages, she ends the conversation and telling him that she'd picked out a gift for him a while ago. She says she wants to give it to him before the sense of why she'd chosen it was lost. And that was it, if these texts suggest tension between the two of them, David says it was quickly resolved.

[00:41:45]

He categorically rejects the idea that these conversations illustrate a falling out.

[00:41:51]

You can see that we are friends. We continue to visit each other all the way until very recently when she was killed. It's impossible that, you know, ask the dimensions or ascribe dimensions that I was planning to hurt my friend. It's ridiculous.

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He says they met in person after those final messages. It was less than two weeks later, he says she gave him the gift, a type of gemstone native to western Honduras and phone records verify they were in contact. She called him on February 18th. Two weeks later, she would be murdered. David was locked in prison after his hearing to await trial. His mother, Dinora, visited him shortly after that.

[00:42:55]

She says she had to stand in a long line to get past the front gate. She guesses there might have been 2000 people, mostly women, waiting to enter.

[00:43:07]

All the women, they're very vulgar. I remember that I didn't know where I had to. In which line I had to be. And I asked. And one of the ladies just looked at me from top to bottom and she said, Lady, you look so well educated, I don't think you belong here. And I just looked at her and I said. I just want to know where I have to stand, and I couldn't believe that my son, who was a businessman.

[00:43:47]

A respectful person. Respectful in every sense, you know, towards every human being, towards law. Was sleeping there in that place. I interviewed David after he'd been transferred to another prison. This one is inside a military compound just outside of Tegucigalpa. You enter through multiple guard stations and then reach the actual prison behind a locked high metal gate.

[00:44:21]

I talked to him multiple times, going to the prison on weekends when the inmates are allowed to receive visitors, Dinora was there along with her husband. They sat in a narrow courtyard chatting with the families of other prisoners. Many had brought sacks full of food and clothes for the inmates. A few children played soccer in the courtyard. The atmosphere felt relaxed.

[00:44:48]

The prisoners could walk freely out of their rooms, visiting with their families and if they wanted to, other inmates. One of the other prisoners here is Sergio Rodriguez, the former environmental manager and community relations chief for D.C. He was arrested almost two years before David. The two of them spend a lot of time together now.

[00:45:12]

David's room is small, maybe eight by 10 feet or so with an even smaller toilet area, a mattress sits atop a yellow cement platform. There's a table, two plastic chairs and a plastic cabinet with a handle on it. David appeared thinner than he'd been at the time of his arrest, but he looked healthy, he wore a white Nike T-shirt, blue sweatpants and silver Nike running shoes.

[00:45:42]

David says that more than two years in confinement has taken a toll.

[00:45:48]

This has been a terrible, horrible. I've lost everything, everything in these two years that I've been detained. I've lost everything. And most important, I've lost my family because I have not been able to see. They do not live here in Honduras. Not easy for them to travel. And I have not seen my three little girls, which is what I miss the most in almost two years. I miss him a lot. I wish I could see them.

[00:46:24]

I wish I could hug them. I wish I could go to school with them. And it's unjust. But I'm going through.

[00:46:33]

David's mother visits him every weekend or did until prison visits were suspended because of the covid-19 pandemic. Her loyalty to her son is total. She says that only once in the past two years did she allow herself to question the possibility that he could have been involved in the murder. She says she'd been praying to God every day that all of the details of his case would be revealed, everything so that her son could be set free.

[00:47:08]

One day she told David that she'd been doing that and she posed a question to him. I would like to know, as a mom, if I pray this way, we might be hurting you because God will reveal everything. And I don't know if you could have heard something and didn't say anything, if you could have done something. And maybe, I don't know. If your partners could have told you. Something. To do something and. Maybe it was wrong.

[00:47:52]

And you know that this will come out and he looked at me that day and he said, Listen, Mom, I want to tell you something. I'm very proud of having you as my mother. But I want you to be. And feel proud of the son that you grew up. Because I've never done anything against the law and not even say against a human being. I have nothing to be ashamed of and you have nothing to feel ashamed of.

[00:48:30]

I want you to have your head high up. Always, because there's nothing that I have ever done against anyone. She says that to lock up her son is to lock up a man who'd been invested with unlimited potential, so much had been poured into his life starting all the way back in the Lesiba, he'd had a proper upbringing, the best education, enormous opportunities.

[00:49:04]

She says that after Bartosz murder, when people began pointing the finger at dusa, she became afraid for her son's life. She says it made a dangerous country feel even more menacing to everyone in the family, to her, much of Honduras had turned on David. These people don't have anything to lose if they lose their life one less. That's it. But we do. We have a different life, we have a lot to lose. Do you know the family members and copying they have been Bakhtin?

[00:50:01]

It's terrible what happened to Tubercle. But I have also been a victim, I continue to be a victim because when all these lies are published and said and how they frame things, they make me look bad.

[00:50:23]

David's tone sometimes shifted during our conversations from dejected and despairing to a dug in sort of defiance.

[00:50:33]

But the message never changed. I did not order this. I did not participated in the murder, Bertocchi says there is no evidence whatsoever that could link me to the killing of Berta. But there are all those text messages, the ones that prosecutors say show David conspiring with others to try to get away with murder on the next episode of Blood River, we dive into the heart of David's defense.

[00:51:30]

One river is written and reported by me, Montrail tofor Forras is our senior producer, Maya Cueva is our associate producer. Our theme was composed and performed by Senior Rubinos special thanks to Carlos Rodriguez. Francesca Levy is the head of Bloomberg Podcast's. Be sure to subscribe if you haven't already and if you like what you hear, please leave us a review. It helps others find out about the show. Thanks for listening.