Younger suspect was `cold,' says detective

Officer describes two men accused of killing children

July 15, 2005|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore homicide detective who interviewed two men charged with killing their three young relatives described in court yesterday the older suspect as cooperative and calm and the younger one as cold and arrogant.

Sitting in a chair placed directly in front of the jury box, Sgt. Darryl Massey interlaced his fingers behind his head and rocked back on his heels to demonstrate the posture of then-17-year-old Adan Canela while he was being interviewed at police headquarters hours after the killings last year.

Canela and his uncle, Policarpio Espinoza, 23, are on trial facing three counts of first-degree murder and conspiracy charges in the May 27, 2004, murders of Lucero Quezada, 8, her brother, Ricardo, 9, and their male cousin, Alexis Quezada, 10. Their throats were cut so deeply that they all were nearly decapitated.

Massey, who has been on the force 26 years, said he found Canela's behavior "eerie."

"Three children were killed, and you're laying back in your chair," the detective told jurors he remembered thinking. "I saw a coldness. Coldness from a young man."

Massey then repeated a remark he made during a pretrial motions hearing in April, that the young murder suspect seemed to be "a person who didn't have a soul."

The detective testified that he also spoke with Espinoza at police headquarters. Espinoza, who agreed to make a taped statement, "maintained good eye contact" and remained calm during interviews.

Earlier in the day, lawyers in the case spent hours outside the presence of the jury reviewing a transcript of Espinoza's taped statement in which he says both he and his nephew drove to the children's apartment the day of the killings and that Canela went inside alone while he waited in the car.

Jurors will not hear about much of that statement because Canela has a right to confront his accuser under cross-examination. Because the defendants are on trial together, Espinoza will not take the stand.

The defense lawyers unsuccessfully argued to keep the statement out altogether because it has been publicized in the media. The judge said jurors are capable of following instructions to consider only evidence presented in the courtroom.

Timothy M. Dixon, Espinoza's attorney, also objected to the edited statement because "it misrepresents what my client said."

What jurors will be able to read in the heavily edited transcript, however, is that Espinoza went to the Fallstaff apartment right after receiving a call on his cellular phone that "something very sad had happened" to the children.

Phone records show that Espinoza received that call at 5:29 p.m. He and Canela arrived at the apartment complex between 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., according to earlier testimony.

Dixon will continue cross-examining Massey this morning.

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