A woman whose 10-year-old son was slain last year along with two younger cousins testified yesterday that one of the men on trial in the killings, and the man's father, had made overtures toward her.
Maria Andrea Espejo Quezada said Adan Canela, 18, had called her about one month before the children were killed and asked her for a "favor." Quezada said she was 38 years old at the time and believed Canela was in his early 20s.
"He started telling me that he had never had a girlfriend," she testified. "He wanted to have a relationship with me. I became very upset."
Canela and his uncle, Policarpio Espinoza, 23, are on trial in Baltimore Circuit Court, facing three counts of first-degree murder and conspiracy charges in the deaths of the three children at a Northwest Baltimore apartment.
Canela's father, Victor Espinoza Perez, is not charged in the crime, but prosecutors and Canela's attorneys have raised questions about his behavior and his whereabouts the afternoon of the killings. Several detectives have testified that they viewed Perez as the "leader" of the family of illegal Mexican immigrants.
Quezada initially told police about Canela's phone call days after the killings in response to a question about whether anyone had ever made threats, phone calls or left her "nasty messages." Canela was the only person she named on the taped statement, given to police in June last year.
Quezada said that she did not take Canela's phone call seriously and that he was "nuts" to make such a request of her.
The woman cried and fidgeted during much of her testimony yesterday. She occasionally put her head down when answering a question. When asked to identify Canela and Espinoza, she pointed to them without looking in their direction.
When Assistant State's Attorney Sharon R. Holback, who requested that Quezada be treated as a hostile witness, asked whether she believed Canela and Espinoza killed her child, she said softly, "No creo que," meaning "I don't believe that."
Quezada is the mother of Alexis Espejo Quezada, 10. Alexis and his cousins Lucero Espinoza, 8, and Ricardo Espinoza, 9, were killed May 27, 2004, in Fallstaff. Maria Andrea Espejo Quezada is the niece of the mother of Lucero and Ricardo.
Asked about her relationship with Victor Espinoza Perez, Quezada said that soon after she arrived in Baltimore in January 2004, he had "tried to caress" her arm. She said she told him she wasn't interested and that he should keep his distance.
Quezada said she had no further problems with him after that and that she did not believe that situation had anything to do with the death of her son.
Perez's interest in Quezada was mentioned by Canela's attorney, James Rhodes, in his opening statements as possibly being linked to the slayings.
Just before court adjourned for the afternoon, the man who made the 911 call to police to report the killings testified about the gruesome scene at the apartment.
Matthew Scott, the family's downstairs neighbor, said Ricardo Espinoza Perez, the father of Lucero and Ricardo who discovered the bodies, summoned him into the apartment to show him what happened. Ricardo Espinoza Perez does not speak English.
Scott, a city school psychologist, said that as he made the 911 call, he noticed Ricardo Espinoza Perez walking slowly and making cell phone calls. He described the man as "very calm. That about sums it up."