2 on trial visited her, woman says

Mother of 2 slain children says the accused saw her after hospital stay, before the deaths

July 06, 2006|By BRENT JONES | BRENT JONES,SUN REPORTER

Two days before her children's throats were slashed in a Northwest Baltimore apartment, the mother testified yesterday, she suffered a miscarriage and was comforted by both of the accused killers.

At the request of her husband, Noemi "Mimi" Espinoza Quezada testified that Policarpio Espinoza, 24, and Adan Canela, 19, visited her just hours after she returned from the hospital in May 2004.

Espinoza and Canela are on trial in Baltimore City Circuit Court for the second time, accused of first-degree murder and conspiracy in the deaths of a girl and two boys to whom they are related. The first trial last year ended in a mistrial.

Lucero Espinoza, 8, her brother, Ricardo Espinoza, 9, and their cousin, Alexis Espejo Quezada, 10, were killed May 27, 2004. Found in their bedrooms, all three were beaten and partially decapitated.

In her testimony yesterday, Quezada said, "My husband had talked to [Espinoza] and told him to stop by the house to see if I needed anything."

It was the final statement of the day for Quezada, mother of Lucero and Ricardo. She is expected to continue her testimony today.

The parents have maintained that they do not believe Espinoza, the children's uncle, and Canela, the children's cousin, are guilty of killing the three youngsters.

Quezada testified that her husband, Ricardo Espinoza Perez, rushed her to the hospital in the early-morning hours of May 25, and she lost the baby by the middle of the morning.

Earlier yesterday, Detective Thomas Martin, who oversaw the collection of evidence at the crime scene, finished his two-day testimony. Yesterday was the first time in the second trial that prosecutors presented evidence that they say connect the defendants to the crime scene.

Martin showed the jury a pair of blue jeans that appeared to be blood-stained and that investigators collected from a Pontiac Grand Am. Prosecutors are expected to try and prove that the jeans contain Canela's skin cells. Martin also held up for jurors a pair of blood-stained jeans found in the bedroom of Espinoza, who was living in his father's house.

It was, however, the only evidence of blood found in that house -- a point defense attorney's pounded home during cross examination of Martin. Defense attorney Nicholas Panteleakis, who is representing Espinoza, also highlighted the delay of the examination of the jeans.

While much of the evidence was analyzed less than a week after the killings, the jeans were not examined until September, a fact Martin attributed to miscommunication.

Earlier in the day, Martin showed the jury what he said he believes is the knife used to kill the children. Defense attorneys for both men, however, emphasized the lack of fingerprints at the crime scene.

Martin also testified that a pair of blood-stained gloves were collected from the car, and hair was found in one of the children's hands at the crime scene.

Martin did not testify that it was Canela's or Espinoza's hair found in the child's hand. Martin also did not say the blood on the jeans or gloves belonged to either of the defendants.

brent.jones@baltsun.com

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