News from around the Baltimore region

August 04, 2005


Objections, outbursts punctuate murder trial

Lengthy cross-examination yesterday in the trial of two Mexican immigrants accused of killing their three young relatives drew several outbursts from a police witness and more than 150 objections from a prosecutor.

Salvatore Bianca, a forensic scientist who is testifying about what could become key evidence in the murder trial, was on the witness stand all day yesterday and all day Tuesday. A former Baltimore Police Department crime lab employee, Bianca invented a vacuum device that collects skin cells and other trace evidence.

Prosecutors say two pairs of bloodstained blue jeans connect Policarpio Espinoza, 23, and his nephew, Adan Canela, 18, to the slashing deaths of an 8-year-old girl, her 9-year-old brother and their 10-year-old male cousin. The children were found dead May 27, 2004, inside their family's Northwest Baltimore apartment.

As the trial enters its fifth week, prosecutors are calling to the stand witnesses who are explaining some of the most critical pieces of evidence.

Bianca was cross-examined most of yesterday by Timothy M. Dixon, a defense attorney for Espinoza. Dixon at times clashed with Assistant State's Attorney Sharon R. Holback, who repeatedly objected to questions that she said were, at times, repetitive and misleading.

Bianca also got angry. Just before the lunch break, he responded, "Are we from a different planet?" when the lawyer asked him a question he thought he had already answered several times.

Moments later, as Dixon continued with the same line of questioning, Bianca erupted in anger, pointed his finger at Dixon and shouted that he had never been called a liar by any attorney.

- Julie Bykowicz


Human remains recovered from water in Inner Harbor

Baltimore Fire Department divers recovered human remains late yesterday afternoon from the Inner Harbor waters near Harborplace's Pratt Street Pavilion, as hundreds of onlookers and tourists watched the grim effort.

The remains were first spotted by an employee at the paddle boat rental facility, who notified authorities about 5:30 p.m., said Chief Kevin Cartwright, a Fire Department spokesman.

Police and fire officials responded and blocked off a wide expanse of the waterfront as divers searched through the 15- to 20-foot depths to the harbor bottom next to the promenade and recovered several parts of the body - but not the head, a police spokesman said.

Cartwright said the remains were taken to the state medical examiner's office.


Officer struck by vehicle shoots, wounds driver in neck

A Baltimore police officer who was struck yesterday by a car speeding away from a stop on the city's west side shot and wounded the driver, a department spokesman said.

Police said that Officer Joseph Bannerman, a six-year veteran, and another officer walked up to a man who was sitting in a car in the 1300 block of Presstman St. Police said the plainclothes officers recognized the man as a suspect in the drug trade and tried to question him.

A police spokesman said the man drove away and hit Bannerman. Detective Donny Bradshaw of the homicide unit said Bannerman fired three times and hit the man once in the right side of the neck. The man, who was not immediately identified, kept driving but was stopped a short time later. He was being treated at Maryland Shock Trauma Center for what police said were non-life-threatening injuries.

Bannerman was taken to Mercy Medical Center, where he was treated for minor injuries and released. Bradshaw said the officer has been placed on routine administrative duty until the investigation is complete.

- Gus G. Sentementes and Richard Irwin


Teenager charged in killing of man, 20, during altercation

A 17-year-old Havre de Grace resident sought in the stabbing death of an Aberdeen man during an altercation Tuesday night turned himself in to Harford County authorities yesterday.

Donta Maurice Bain of the 100 block of Vancherie Court entered the Havre de Grace police office at 12:20 p.m. after speaking with his mother and members of his church, the county Sheriff's Office said. Bain was at home yesterday when his mother learned of the charges and talked with him, said Lt. Jim Eyler, a Sheriff's Office spokesman.

Bain was charged as an adult with first-degree and second-degree murder in the death of Brandon Jacob Clayton Gregory, 20, of the 1400 block of Old Stepney Road.

Bain and Gregory were part of a group of six or seven people standing outside in the 1700 block of Dearwood Court in Edgewood late Tuesday when an altercation occurred, the Sheriff's Office said. Gregory was stabbed once in the chest, and the attacker fled, the office said.

Sheriff's deputies arrived at 11:25 p.m. and found Gregory unconscious on the ground as two people attempted to help him, the Sheriff's Office said. He was taken to Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air, where he was pronounced dead.

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