By Mike Hellgren

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—There are new developments in one of Baltimore’s most notorious murders: three children were beaten and nearly decapitated almost a decade ago.

Mike Hellgren has new information on a third trial for the family members accused of the crime.

The first trial ended in a hung jury. In trial number two, the state’s highest court threw out a conviction, saying the judge made mistakes. On Monday morning, a judge ruled the men will be tried separately for the third trial.

The heartbreak has never ended for the family of the three young Mexican immigrant children–Ricardo Espinoza, his sister, Lucero, and their cousin Alexis Quezada. The boys were strangled, all were beaten–their throats slashed–at an apartment in Northwest Baltimore in May 2004.

From the start, police and prosecutors claimed relatives Policarpio Espinoza Perez and Adan Canela were behind the brutal murders.

“It’s not right. I’ve lost my children, and now I’ve lost my brother and my nephew,” said the victims’ father Ricardo Espinoza Perez in 2004.

They are now about to be tried for a third time…this time separately.

Defense attorneys will argue DNA evidence — the children’s blood — matched to the defendants’ clothes, is unreliable.

“It’s always difficult when science is the entire basis for your case, which is what we have always alleged here, and we say the science is faulty,” said Brian Murphy, defense attorney.

In another twist, the patriarch of the family, Victor Espinoza, was killed in a murder-for-hire plot. His wife sits in a Mexican jail, convicted of the crime. The defense believe her testimony, if they can get it, will be crucial.

“We are going to show some very legitimate theories as to who we believe is involved in this,” said Nick Panteleakis, lead defense attorney.

But after all these years and trials, no motive was ever developed, and many family members have remained staunchly behind Espinoza Perez and Canela, saying they are innocent.

“Just like that, they send innocent men to jail. I am not going to rest until I see the guilty person pay for what they did. I want that person dead or alive,” a relative said in 2004

The men also insist they are innocent.

WJZ will bring you complete coverage when the trials begin.


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