Saldana pleads not guilty in death of his wife


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ST. THOMAS - Enrique Saldana, the former V.I. Police captain accused of brutally murdering his wife, pleaded not guilty in court on Thursday.

The silence was deafening as friends and family of Jeanette Magras-Saldana sat quietly in the courtroom waiting for V.I. Superior Court Judge Michael Dunston to begin the arraignment Thursday morning.

Saldana, 51, sat at the defense table alongside his attorney, Julie Smith-Todman, not looking back at those in attendance.

No new information was presented in court during the arraignment, other than the dates on which Saldana will reappear in court. Saldana is not scheduled to reappear in court until November, and his trial is set for early May.

Though attorneys in previous hearings said they would address bail when the V.I. Medical Examiner's Office completes Magras-Saldana's autopsy, including a toxicology test, attorneys did not discuss the autopsy Thursday.

"It is not public record when it's under investigation," said V.I. Attorney General Vincent Frazer of the autopsy results. "This is still very much an active investigation."

Frazer said that he could release no information about the case, including Magras-Saldana's cause of death.

On May 2, police arrested Saldana, who had been released from federal prison in February after serving a sentence for corruption. Saldana and V.I. Police Sgt. George Greene Jr. were convicted in January 2010 of obstruction of justice, extortion and bribery.

On May 2, Saldana called 911 dispatchers at 8:30 a.m. asking for a police escort to Schneider Hospital, where he transported the body of his wife, Jeanette Magras-Saldana, who was 43 when she was killed.

Initial police reports described Magras-Saldana's body as badly beaten, with several broken bones, and soaked with water.

Saldana told police that Magras-Saldana had been intoxicated the evening before, that he and his wife went swimming at the beach early the next morning, had sex and that she later fell while at the beach, injuring herself.

At his initial appearance in court, Saldana said that in the time he had been with his wife, he never abused her.

Saldana is facing charges of second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, first-degree assault and third-degree assault.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email jkane@dailynews.vi.

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