- The Washington Times - Friday, August 5, 2005

One month into the trial of two men accused of butchering three Mexican children in northwest Baltimore, only a few things are clear about the case: One, sometime during the afternoon of May 27, 2004, one or more persons entered an apartment in the 7000 block of Park Heights Avenue and murdered three children, beating them with an aluminum baseball bat before nearly decapitating them with a boning knife.

The victims (Lucero Solis Quezada, 8; her brother Ricardo Solis Quezada Jr., 9; and their 10-year-old cousin, Alexis Espejo Quezada), the victims’ immediate family and the defendants (the children’s cousin Adan Canela, 18, and their uncle, Policarpio Espinoza Perez, 23) were all in the United States illegally. Both the prosecution and the defense say the children were killed by illegal aliens or because someone failed to pay a debt to people who smuggled them into the country. The victims’ relatives have been given special visas permitting them to remain in the country during the trial, but they appear to have been less than helpful to police searching for the children’s killers.

Everything else about this case is shrouded in confusion. Initially, investigators suggested that the children were killed because their parents had failed to pay off “coyotes,” who smuggle family members into the United States. But well before the trial began last month, prosecutors said they would not offer a motive for the crimes after all; instead, they would try to convict the defendants based on DNA and other blood evidence linking them to the murdered children.

Then, during July 12 testimony, Detective Irvin Bradley, the Baltimore City Police Department’s lead investigator in the case, appeared to offer a motive — but hardly one that would help prove the state’s case. Asked about the possibility that smugglers murdered the children in retribution for an unpaid debt, Detective Bradley replied: “Something was paid, but to whom and how much, I don’t know.”

As S.A. Miller of The Washington Times reported, Detective Bradley’s testimony was consistent with a defense theory that family members other than the defendants were involved in the smuggling and murders.

Judging from the evidence presented in the courtroom in recent days, it is anyone’s guess whether prosecutors will be able to get a guilty verdict.

One of the most troubling things about the case has been the reluctance of the family to cooperate with investigators. Although family members have repeatedly testified that they do not speak English (which has slowed the pace of the trial considerably) prosecutors have presented witnesses who said family members have routinely communicated in English without difficulty. Why do these illegal aliens seem so reluctant to help authorities solve the murder of these innocent children?

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