Prosecutors present bloody jeans, gloves in killing of 3 children

Detective testifies that the clothing ties the two defendants to crimes

July 30, 2005|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,SUN STAFF

Prosecutors reiterated yesterday the importance of two pairs of blue jeans and for the first time told jurors about work gloves that they say tie two men on trial to the grisly killings last year of three children in Northwest Baltimore.

In cross-examination yesterday and Thursday, defense attorneys had a homicide detective acknowledge that some evidence - originally portrayed by investigators as important - could not be linked to the crime and used in the case against Policarpio Espinoza, 23, and Adan Canela, 18.

But under questioning by Assistant State's Attorney Tony N. Garcia, the detective who oversaw the collection of evidence in the case said four articles of clothing - two stained pairs of jeans and two stained work gloves - do connect the men to the crime.

Lucero Espinoza, 8, her brother Ricardo, 9, and their male cousin Alexis Espejo Quezada, 10, were killed the afternoon of May 27, 2004, inside their family's apartment in Fallstaff. Espinoza is an uncle of the children, and Canela is a cousin.

Holding a dark pair of jeans found in the trunk of a Pontiac Grand Am that the defendants used, Garcia asked Detective Thomas Martin, "Do they connect the defendant Adan Canela to this murder?"

"Yes, they do," Martin replied.

Garcia picked up a faded pair of jeans found in a bedroom of the Baltimore County home where the defendants lived.

"Do these connect Policarpio Espinoza to this murder?" he asked.

"Yes, sir," the detective replied.

Garcia also showed jurors two stained left-hand work gloves that police collected from the Grand Am, and Martin acknowledged that those also connect the defendants to the crime.

Martin did not testify about whose blood, if anyone's, was on any of the items. He also did not specify how the jeans and gloves can be connected to the defendants. Also on the prosecution witness list are crime lab technicians and DNA experts who might be able to elaborate on the links.

Yesterday was the first time during the Baltimore Circuit Court trial that a witness testified about gloves that might have been used by the defendants during the killings. Assistant State's Attorney Sharon R. Holback did not mention them in her opening statements, focusing solely on the jeans.

In the weeks after the killings, sources close to the investigation said one of the gloves contains both Espinoza's blood and the blood of at least one of the slain children.

Charging documents filed against Espinoza and Canela also refer to a towel and T-shirt taken from the Baltimore County home that police believed to be bloody, but defense attorneys established that those items proved irrelevant as evidence.

Adam Sean Cohen, one of Canela's attorneys, questioned Martin about whether anything at either the site of the slayings or the Baltimore County home of the defendants linked Canela to the children's deaths. Martin said that nothing did.

Defense attorneys for both men, through dozens of questions posed to Martin, emphasized the lack of evidence, including fingerprints, at the crime scene, the Baltimore County home and in the Grand Am.

Also yesterday, prosecutors called to the witness stand the butcher who had hired Canela just days before the children were found with their throats cut so deeply that all were nearly decapitated.

Roni Matyas, a butcher in Northwest Baltimore, said he spent about six hours working with Canela one day in May last year. Matyas said he showed Canela how to cut with a 6-inch knife and a 10-inch knife, using both a straight slice and a back-and-forth motion.

Matyas said he found Canela to be a very good student and also a "very pleasant person."

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