BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The horrific murders of three young children in 2004 has produced a new sentence for one of the convicted defendants.

Alex DeMetrick reports although he was originally facing life in prison, Policarpio Espinoza Perez may one day be set free.

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During the last nine years, Espinoza Perez has been tried three times in the courthouse. There was a mistrial, then a first-degree murder conviction which was overturned on appeal and finally last month, he was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder.

And at the center of all three trials was the devastating loss caused by the brutal murder of three young children in 2004. A sister and brother and their young cousin were beaten and nearly decapitated. Espinoza Perez was arrested soon after, along with Adan Canela, whose third trial has yet to be held.

“I don’t understand. I don’t understand. I don’t understand nothing,” said his uncle.

Espinoza Perez’s uncle clings to his nephew’s innocence and his grief at losing a son and daughter–and told the judge as much at the sentencing.

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Maria Quezada, whose 10-year-old son Alexis was murdered, also spoke. She said, “I was robbed of my son. I would like you to imagine the way I found him. I want God to erase the memory of the way I found him. I want to remember him as the happy boy he was.”

Then, for the first time, Espinoza Perez addressed the judge, saying. “I am not a violent man. I have been in prison for nine years for a crime I didn’t commit. I loved them. I love my family. I was always there for them when they needed me.”

“He’s always wanted to say something but he really felt the need to say this time what was in his heart, what was in his mind,” said Perez’s lawyer, Nick Panteleakis. “And he says, `I didn’t do it,’ and I believe him.”

Unlike his previous conviction for murder, this sentence allows the possibility of one day being freed from prison.

“Yeah, he is eligible for parole,” Panteleakis said. “I would guess about 12 years.”

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Espinoza Perez was convicted of three counts of conspiracy to commit murder. The judge merged them into one life sentence, crediting the nine years he has already served.