By Mike Hellgren

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—The crime horrified Baltimore. Now a jury is deciding the fate of one of two men accused of brutally murdering three young family members.

Mike Hellgren has more on the closing arguments in the high-profile case.

Jurors deliberated for about two hours Thursday afternoon before being released for the evening.

The victims were 8-year-old Lucera Espinoza, her 9-year-old brother Ricardo, and their 10-year-old cousin Alexis Quezada.

In closing arguments, prosecutors showed jurors their smiling pictures along with the knife used to almost decapitate them and the bat used to beat the little boys to death inside their apartment in Northwest Baltimore almost a decade ago.

The victims’ relative Policarpio Espinoza Perez is on trial for the third time for murdering the children. His first trial ended in a hung jury. His conviction in the second trial was overturned on appeal.

Ricardo Espinoza, the father of two of the children, does not believe Espinoza Perez is guilty.

“You take all of the family, put it together, and the people killed my daughter and my son and my nephew are in the street. He may be killing other people. You don’t know,” he said.

Prosecutors say the family was deeply troubled and hinted that relatives betrayed each other, plotting the deaths as revenge over infidelity, with a family matriarch recruiting Espinoza Perez to kill along with another relative, Adan Canela.

What’s different about this trial is Espinoza Perez is being tried alone. That gave the defense the ability to use a taped statement he gave to police.

Espinoza Perez says he and Canela drove to the apartment building and that Canela told him to wait inside the truck while he went to talk to his dad. He says Canela was inside for about 12 minutes and then came out a back window, went back to the truck and was acting weird.

It’s now up to another jury to decide the truth.

“I don’t think my brother and my nephew did it,” Ricardo Espinoza said. “I never. I never.”

The deliberations will resume Friday morning. WJZ will bring you a verdict as soon as it’s handed down.

Canela’s trial is scheduled to start April 1.


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