By Alex DeMetrick

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Baltimore is no stranger to murder. But the near decapitations of three young children in 2004 stunned not just the city but much of the nation. Now those murders are back in the spotlight.

Alex DeMetrick has more on the retrial of one of the two men convicted of those killings.

This is the third time this case has gone before a jury. But after overturning the 2006 convictions on appeal, this newest retrial comes with major changes.

The murders left family members shattered, the grief equal to the savagery of the attack that all but decapitated a brother, sister and their cousin.

The youngest was eight. The oldest 10.

Shortly after, the siblings’ uncle was arrested.

Policarpio Espinoza Perez and a second man, Adan Canela, were tried together.

The first trial ended in a hung jury, the second in conviction. But an appeal overturned those guilty verdicts.

Now a retrial will separate their cases for the first time.

“We’re thrilled we’re getting another chance to try this case.  Policarpio’s maintained his innocence for the entire time, since day one when I met him,” said Nicholas Panteleakis, Perez lawyer.

This time, some DNA evidence allowed in the second trial will not be allowed.

Physical evidence is far from overwhelming. Police did recover a bloody knife and a bloody fingerprint at the scene. But neither is directly linked to Perez and Canela.

There’s also a bat containing fibers from the girl’s dress and grit from a construction site.

The defendants did construction work.

But the biggest difference this time is their separate retrials.

“Well, you’re going to get to hear things you didn’t get to hear in the first two trials.  Things that were done to protect the co-defendant.  Now it’s open and fair game for everyone to hear,” Panteleakis said.

A pool of 150 prospective jurors was called to court and a jury was seated late in the day.

When they heard the defendant was charged with murdering three young children, there was an audible gasp in the courtroom.


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