- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 28, 2005

BALTIMORE — Jurors yesterday saw much of the prosecution’s physical evidence, including blue jeans and gloves reputedly stained with blood, in the murder trial of two men accused of slashing the throats of three young relatives.

The state’s case against Adan Canela, 18, and Policarpio Espinoza Perez, 23, is expected to hinge on DNA and other blood evidence linking them to the slain children, and the newly introduced evidence appeared to lay the foundation for testimony by crime lab technicians.

The men face life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder in the slayings of Lucero Solis Quezada, 8, her brother Ricardo Solis Quezada Jr., 9, and their cousin Alexis Espejo Quezada, 10. The children were beaten with an aluminum baseball bat and their throats slashed with a boning knife in their Northwest Baltimore apartment in May 2004.

Mr. Canela is the cousin of the victims. Mr. Perez is the uncle of the victims and Mr. Canela.

The defendants, the victims and their immediate families are illegal aliens from Mexico. Family members have received special visas for the trial, which could last till mid-August.

The victims’ families have defended their kin, and police have testified that family members had been “reluctant” to cooperate with investigators. The family members say they do not speak English, but prosecutors have presented witnesses who said some family members regularly communicated in English without difficulty.

Baltimore police Detective Tommy Martin oversaw much of the collection of physical evidence from the crime scene and from the home shared by the defendants. His testimony yesterday served to introduce nearly two dozen items as evidence.

Among the evidence was a pair of gloves found in the car used by Mr. Canela and Mr. Perez. The gloves were tested for traces of blood.

“You can still see some stains on the gloves,” Detective Martin said as he held the gloves up in front of the jury. “There are some brown stains.”

Other items thought to be stained with blood include a pair of jeans found in the trunk of the car and two tank tops found in the washing machine at the defendants’ home.

Although prosecutors did not delve into the findings of the crime lab analysis, the defense’s cross-examination of Detective Martin highlighted results that did not implicate Mr. Canela or Mr. Perez in the killings.

Nicholas Panteleakis, an attorney for Mr. Perez, elicited testimony that swabs taken from the shower drain and sink drain in the defendants’ bathroom did not contain any blood or other evidence linking the defendants to the crime.

Prosecutors have not offered a motive in the slayings but say the DNA and blood evidence will prove that the accused are the “cold-blooded killers.”

However, testimony Tuesday by Maria Andrea Espejo Quezada, the mother of Alexis, hinted at a possible motive. She said she rebuffed romantic overtures from Mr. Canela a few weeks before the killings.

The mother, characterized by Assistant State’s Attorney Sharon Holback as a hostile witness, also said she didn’t think Mr. Canela and Mr. Perez were the killers.

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