BALTIMORE (WJZ)— Raw wounds are reopened in a Baltimore courtroom following opening statements in the retrial of a man accused of murdering three young children.

Alex DeMetrick reports the mother of one of the victims was the first witness to take the stand.

Under a late winter rain, horrific details from a spring day in 2004 were relived in a Baltimore courtroom: the brutal murders of Alexis Quezada and his cousins, Lucero and Ricardo Espinoza. Slashed and all but decapitated, their uncle, Policarpio Espinoza Perez, was convicted in 2006 of their killings, along wither another man, Adan Canela.

An appeal overturned those convictions and for the first time, the two are being tried separately.

Perez is first.

“He’s holding up great now. He’s excited we have this chance to go forward,” said Perez’ lawyer, Nicholas Panteleakis.

In opening statements, the defense introduced him to the jury, saying, “This is Mr. Policarpio Espinoza Perez. He is not guilty of the charges the state has charged him with. He was a loving uncle. He is not a monster.”

But the prosecution countered, “These murders were not committed by strangers, but committed by family, by relatives. Policarpio Espinoza Perez and Adan Canela mutilated these children and used the trust of these children to execute them.”

What did not come out Tuesday was a firm reason why the murders happened.

“They’re hinting toward a motive. We’ll see what happens. I don’t think there is one, so I don’t think he did it,” Panteleakis said.

Those hints may involve Maria Quezada, who testified she rejected the advances of Adan Canela and Victor Espinoza Perez, the father of Policarpio. But it was her tearful testimony about finding her son Alexis’ body that riveted the courtroom.

“I saw him facedown,” she said. “I became crazy and I was screaming.”

By separating the defendants’ trials, defense lawyers for both will bring out conflicting testimony of who did what that May afternoon.


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