- The Washington Times - Friday, July 29, 2005

BALTIMORE — Defense attorneys for two illegal aliens on trial for nearly decapitating three young relatives worked yesterday to rebut the prosecution’s claim that blood linked the defendants to the murders.

Policarpio Espinoza Perez, 23, and Adan Canela, 18, have pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.

The two face a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted of the deaths of Ricardo Solis Quezada Jr., 9, and his sister, Lucero Solis Quezada, 8, and their cousin, Alexis Espejo Quezada, 10.

The three were found in their apartment in May 2004, with cuts so deep they were nearly beheaded.

On Thursday, prosecutors introduced several pieces of clothing seized from the defendants’ home and car that they said linked the men to the crime.

Yesterday, when defense attorneys questioned Detective Tommy Martin, the officer who oversaw collection of the evidence, they focused on the dozens of places in the home and car where blood was not found.

At one point, attorney Nicholas Panteleakis held up what he described as a “big bag of stuff from the car” that had been collected and analyzed.

Shaking it loudly, he had the detective laboriously detail the sections of the car where no blood had been found.

The detective also testified that he didn’t write down in his paperwork that a pair of jeans with suspected blood on them were taken from the defendants’ Baltimore County house.

“There was no reason to,” Detective Martin said, indicating that he was only required to list the items, without adding evidentiary details.

Blood found in a tub and sink at the defendants’ house, Detective Martin also said, wasn’t human blood, agreeing with Mr. Panteleakis’ assertion that it had “no value in this case whatsoever.”

Mr. Canela was a butcher at a Baltimore slaughterhouse and Mr. Perez worked for the family’s food business, which sold Mexican food at construction sites.

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

Detective Martin, who testified for most of the week, also acknowledged that another intriguing piece of evidence — a bloody fingerprint found on the windowsill of an open window at the murder scene, thought to be an escape route — “didn’t have enough definition to even be examined.”

“It would be impossible for it to come back to a match for anyone,” he said, adding that there were no fingerprints found at the crime scene linking the defendants, including those found in blood, which he said he thought numbered fewer than 10.

“Of all potential bloody prints, none had enough definition to be identified,” he said.

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