- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 10, 2005

BALTIMORE — After 24 days of testimony, prosecutors rested their case yesterday against two Mexican immigrants accused of killing three young children.

Judge Thomas Ward rejected a request by defense attorneys to dismiss the case against Adan Canela, 18, and Policarpio Espinoza Perez, 23. The lawyers argued there was no direct evidence that the men conspired to kill the children in May 2004.

Prosecutor Tony Garcia contended that a witness saw the two men hanging out behind the children’s Baltimore apartment two nights before the killings. Mr. Garcia cited a police statement by Mr. Perez in which he describes driving to the apartment with Mr. Canela about the time police think they were murdered.

However, all mention of Mr. Canela in the statement has been omitted in the copy given to the jury. The men are on trial together, and Mr. Perez is not allowed to incriminate Mr. Canela without taking the stand.

Mr. Garcia also said other family members were aware that the children were in danger. He reminded the judge about testimony from a victim’s mother, Andrea Maria Espejo. She testified that Mimi Quezada, the mother of the other two victims, said something had happened to the children just before their dead bodies were found.

Both mothers have testified to having “a premonition” before the slayings that something bad was about to happen.

A defense attorney suggested in opening statements that the children may have been murdered because family members failed to pay for being smuggled into the United States.

The complex case involves an extended family of Mexican illegal aliens. Mr. Perez is an uncle to the children, and Mr. Canela is a cousin.

Mr. Ward said there was an “enormous amount of circumstantial evidence,” and he said he believed the jury could find the men guilty of killing Ricardo Quezada Jr. and his sister, Lucero Solis Quezada, both 9, and their 10-year-old male cousin, Alexis Espejo Quezada.

Defense attorneys called their first witness yesterday. Dr. Alan Friedman, president of Helix Biotech, was called to testify about DNA evidence in the case.

The victims’ family is from Tenenexpan, a small town in the Mexican state of Veracruz. The children were born in Mexico and immigrated to the United States with their parents.

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