By Mike Hellgren

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A jury continues to deliberate the fate of a man accused of one of the most horrific crimes in recent Baltimore history–the murders of three young children.

Mike Hellgren has more on the questions the jury asked Friday.

The jurors are having some big problems. They sent several notes to the judge. The last one said “we are hopelessly deadlocked.” So the judge read them what’s called an Allen charge, basically urging them to try to come to a unanimous decision. She eventually sent them home for the weekend.

It has been almost nine long years since police arrested Policarpio Espinoza Perez for killing his three young relatives inside the family’s apartment in Northwest Baltimore.

The children were nearly beheaded, sliced with a kitchen knife as they struggled to get away.

Now, Espinoza Perez waits for a jury to decide his fate for the third time. His first trial resulted in a hung jury, a judge overturned his second trial on appeal.

And for the first time, he’s not being tried jointly with Adan Canela, who prosecutors believe murdered the children along with him. Canela goes on trial in less than two weeks, and his attorney Brian Murphy listened to the final arguments in this case in preparation.

“Both sides were good. They’re all very good lawyers. Obviously the state has to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt and to a moral certainty, and I’m not sure they did. But that’s up to them,” said Murphy.

Prosecutors have not come up with a clear motive, but believe some sort of betrayal in the Mexican immigrant family led to the murders.

Police DNA experts found blood on Espinoza Perez’s shoe and jeans. But the father of two of the victims says he believes Espinoza Perez did not kill his kids in what has become one of the longest running and most notorious murder cases in Baltimore City history.

“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,” said Ricardo Espinoza.

The judge urged jurors to come back Monday morning for deliberations with renewed energy. It’s unclear at this point–if they are truly hung–whether there will be a fourth trial for Espinoza Perez.

The victims  in the case 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.

Jurors are deciding on three charges for Espinoza Perez: first-degree murder, second-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder.

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.”

Canela’s trial is scheduled to start April 1.