- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 26, 2005

BALTIMORE — Attorneys for two men on trial in the slaying of three children last year focused yesterday on what they argue was an insufficient police investigation into the deaths.

Detective Juan Diaz often sifted through 36 police progress reports while being questioned about evidence against Policarpio Espinoza Perez, 23, and Adan Canela, 18, in the May 27, 2004, slayings in a Baltimore apartment.

None of the questions and responses suggested a motive for the killings of Ricardo Solis Quezada Jr. and his sister, Lucero Solis Quezada, both 9, and their 10-year-old male cousin Alexis Espejo Quezada.

When arrested, Mr. Perez and Mr. Canela said they were not at the Fallstaff apartments at 4:20 p.m. when the children came home from school. The men said they had been working at the time and then gone to Fells Point to relax.

Mr. Canela’s attorney, James Rhodes, asked Detective Diaz whether he or any other detective had gone to Fells Point to find anyone there who might have seen the two men.

“No, it’s really a big island,” responded Detective Diaz, who was a Spanish translator at the time and later became a Baltimore city police detective.

When asked whether he learned that Mr. Perez was having marital problems and whether police tried to find out more about the problems, Detective Diaz replied, “Yes, sir.”

“He didn’t want to talk to us,” the detective said. “That’s when he said he wanted a lawyer.”

The trial before the jury was interrupted several times yesterday because an earphone system malfunctioned.

Translators repeated the questions and responses being transmitted to earphones worn by the defendants and some spectators in the courtroom.

Under questioning by Mr. Perez’s attorney, Timothy Dixon, Detective Diaz said he went only once to an area near the apartment where Mr. Perez’s car was parked and didn’t look for any blood stains.

Later, the detective testified about three warrants to explore the trunk of the car, in which authorities found a red shirt, some blue pieces of clothing, three pairs of shoes, four shirts, black shorts, two towels and a roll of paper towels.

Mr. Rhodes asked whether the detective had checked the sizes of the items or the brand names, or examined them for blood or other stains.

“No, sir,” Detective Diaz answered. “There was a lot of stuff.”

The detective said Mr. Canela was questioned from 11:26 p.m. the day of the slayings until 3:45 a.m. the next day.

Court documents show that Mr. Perez told detectives that he and Mr. Canela drove to the apartment and that he waited outside in his car for about 40 minutes while Mr. Canela was “playing with the children.”

Documents quote Mr. Perez as saying that Mr. Canela later emerged shirtless from a rear window of the apartment.

Detective Diaz said Mr. Canela “denied being in the apartment.”

“I don’t know. … I don’t know nothing,” the detective quoted Mr. Canela as saying on learning about Mr. Perez’s statement.

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