- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 2, 2006

BALTIMORE — Jurors today will begin deliberating the fate of two illegal aliens from Mexico on trial for the second time in the 2004 near-beheading deaths of three young relatives.

In closing arguments yesterday, prosecutors told jurors that DNA evidence proves Adan Canela, 19, and his uncle Policarpio Espinoza Perez, 24, committed the May 27, 2004, brutal slayings.

The two men are accused of killing Ricardo Solis Quezada Jr., 9; his sister Lucero Solis Quezada, 8; and their cousin Alexis Espejo Quezada, 10.

The prosecutors focused on several articles of clothing smeared with the children’s blood and on phone records that place Mr. Perez, who they say was never far from Mr. Canela, at the crime scene the day of the slayings.

Prosecutors also said that relatives knew the killings were planned, and that the motive is likely a family squabble that began either when Alexis’ mother rebuffed sexual advances by Mr. Canela and his father, Victor Espinoza Perez, or because Victor Espinoza Perez’s wife was jealous.

As prosecutors gave their closing arguments, several quiet outbursts in Spanish were heard from the family of the defendants. They have said they think the men are innocent.

“This is not a Polaroid picture I’m painting here,” said prosecutor Tony N. Garcia. “This is a series of dots … that when they get closer to another you say, ‘Oh, I see what that is.’ ”

Photographs of a smiling Ricardo, Lucero and Alexis were shown to jurors yesterday.

Prosecutors said the children fought for their lives before they were strangled, beaten on the head and their throats slashed to the bone.

Defense attorneys argued that asking the jury to “connect dots” shows the state has failed to prove its case.

They argued that police felt pressured to solve the biggest case they had faced to date, and possibly made errors and contaminated evidence in the process.

Several neighbors who testified did not identify the men until after their faces were shown on television, the attorneys said.

They also argued that untested DNA collection methods made the state’s case shaky, and cited the failure to prove that frequent phone calls between Mr. Perez and his family were unusual.

They also criticized prosecutors for paying several forensic witnesses to testify.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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