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CITY/COUNTY DIGEST

News from around the Baltimore region

August 23, 2005

BALTIMORE

Judge in murder trial reprimands jurors

Some jurors deciding the fates of two Mexican immigrants accused of slashing the throats of three young relatives have apparently strayed from deliberations, listening to music on headphones, doing work and sitting away from other jurors, the judge said yesterday in court.

Baltimore Circuit Judge Thomas Ward gently reprimanded the jurors yesterday morning - on Day 5 of deliberations in the lengthy and complex murder trial - and asked them to return their full focus to making a decision.

Policarpio Espinoza, 23, and his nephew, Adan Canela, 18, are charged with three counts each of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the deaths of Lucero Espinoza, 8, her brother Ricardo Espinoza, 9, and their male cousin Alexis Espejo Quezada, 10. The children were found dead May 27, 2004, in their family's Northwest Baltimore apartment.

Espinoza, an uncle of the children, and Canela, a cousin, could be sentenced to life in prison if they are convicted.

Jurors listened to five weeks of testimony before beginning deliberations the afternoon of Aug. 15. Early written questions from the deliberations room showed that jurors might have been having difficulty reaching a unanimous decision, but they sent no notes yesterday and made only one request Thursday. The judge gave them Friday, Saturday and Sunday off.

Ward called the jurors into the courtroom just before noon yesterday. "You have to sit around the jury table and participate," he said. Later, he added: "No one is blaming you for taking a long time because this was a long trial."

- Julie Bykowicz

CARROLL COUNTY

Finksburg man gets 30 years in home invasion, shooting

A Carroll County man was sentenced to 30 years in prison yesterday for the October armed robbery and invasion of a Taylorsville-area home, in which several family members were tied up and the husband was beaten and shot.

Jerry Leroy Burkett, 62, of the 3200 block of Murray Road in the Meekins Mobile Home Park in Finksburg, was convicted of burglary, assault, armed robbery, conspiracy, theft and use of a revolver in the crime.

He is to serve 25 years of the sentence without parole because he has prior convictions for armed robberies in Baltimore County and Virginia, Carroll County State's Attorney Jerry F. Barnes told Circuit Judge Michael M. Galloway.

Part of the plea agreement includes $82,552 in restitution to the victims, Rodney and Linda Hidey, of the 3100 block of Ridge Road.

Two masked intruders held Linda Hidey and her 7-year-old daughter at gunpoint after breaking in just before 10 p.m. Oct. 11. When her husband returned home and struggled with them, he was struck in the head and neck, then shot once in the leg. The family was tied up with rope before the men fled with cash, police said.

The case was solved in January when Naomi Ruth Burkett, Burkett's wife and the driver during invasion, confessed to state police, Barnes said. Naomi Burkett, 69, of the Murray Road address, was ordered to serve 18 months of a five-year sentence on her guilty pleas to armed robbery, assault and conspiracy.

She testified against co-defendant Edinson Herrera Ramirez, 41, whose last address was in the 300 block of Main St. in Westminster, Barnes said. Ramirez is expected to be sentenced Oct. 6 after being convicted in a weeklong jury trial in which he was identified as the intruder with a sawed-off shotgun, Barnes said.

- Sheridan Lyons

BALTIMORE

Milford Mill man fatally shot on city street; gunman sought

City police are seeking the public's help in identifying the gunman who fatally shot a Baltimore County man during a foot chase late Saturday in West Baltimore.

The victim, Willie Ed Hubbard, 36, of the 3400 block of Lynn Haven Drive in the Cedar Run area of Milford Mill, had entered the rear yard of an abandoned house in the 500 block of N. Loudon Ave. about 10:30 p.m., apparently in an effort to steal a stash of cocaine, when he was spotted and chased by the gunman, said homicide Detective Al Marcus.

The chase ended in the 4000 block of W. Franklin St., where Hubbard was shot. He died a short time later at Maryland Shock Trauma Center, Marcus said.

A quantity of cocaine was recovered from the house, the detective said.

Anyone with information is urged to call Metro Crime Stoppers toll free at 866-7LOCKUP.

-Richard Irwin

HARFORD COUNTY

Tip leads to arrest of pair in June shooting of man

Two men accused of shooting a man in the groin during a June robbery were arrested last weekend at a Joppatowne gas station, a Harford County sheriff's spokesman said yesterday.

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