- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 18, 2005

BALTIMORE — Jurors got some bad news yesterday when they paused in their deliberations of a triple-slaying case to take another look at a video tape: It was accidentally erased.

The tape of television news coverage showed family members’ reactions after the nearly decapitated bodies were found, and jurors asked to see it again.

“Folks, we’ve got a problem,” Judge Thomas Ward told the jury after the mishap.

The tape apparently was recorded over while it was being set up, as jurors sat looking up at a television screen waiting to see it.

“I can’t show it to you because it’s gone,” the judge said.

The jury was unable to see the replay of grieving mother Mimi Quezada with her head in her hands as her husband tried to console her outside their apartment in May 2004.

Their expressions are important because police detectives testified that family members seemed unemotional in the initial hours after the bodies were found. Defense attorneys have tried to contradict that assessment.

The video was shown earlier in the trial.

Jurors were in their third full day of deliberations in the case against illegal aliens Adan Canela, 18, and Policarpio Espinoza Perez, 23.

The Mexican nationals are accused of conspiracy and first-degree murder in the slayings of 9-year-old Ricardo Solis Quezada Jr., and his sister, 8-year-old Lucero Solis Quezada, and their 10-year-old male cousin, Alexis Espejo Quezada.

Timothy Dixon, an attorney for Mr. Perez, said he would try to find another copy of the news report.

“The machine has been malfunctioning the whole trial,” he said outside the courtroom.

The tape mishap was another technical glitch in a trial bedeviled by a poor sound system in the courtroom. Jurors, attorneys and the judge have complained regularly about being unable to hear witnesses.

Judge Ward has criticized the design of the witness stand, saying the microphone is mounted too far away from the witness.

“It’s that … microphone,” Judge Ward said last week, before telling a witness to “talk like you’re mad.”

To another witness, Judge Ward instructed: “You’ve got to talk as loud as you would on the soccer field.”

Soft-spoken witnesses have sat directly in front of the jury box. Jurors have been seen raising their hands to indicate they cannot hear someone.

Interpreters also have complained.

“The interpreter cannot hear the witness,” Marta Goldstein told the judge last week in the middle of testimony.

Attorney Nick Panteleakis also has pointed out the poor acoustics in the courtroom, where testimony began July 8.

“A lot of people have trouble hearing due to the way this courtroom was built,” he said.

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