Third trial set for illegal immigrants in children's murder

A date has been set for the third trial of two men, illegal immigrants from Mexico, charged with murder in the deaths of three young relatives in a Baltimore apartment in 2004.

Policarpio Espinoza Perez, 29, and Adan Espinoza Canela, 24, also again pleaded not guilty Thursday. They have been held in custody since their arrests seven years ago, and are now scheduled to be tried again Nov. 10 in Baltimore Circuit Court.

The first trial ended in a hung jury, and the second resulted in convictions that were later overturned because of a judge's error.

"I take it, since this is the third arraignment, that the defendant's have been advised of the elements of the offenses?" Judge Stuart R. Berger asked the attorneys Thursday, who agreed that was the case.

The men are each charged with two counts of first-degree murder, one count of second-degree murder and conspiracy in connection with the deaths of three elementary school-age children: siblings Ricardo and Lucero Espinoza, ages 9 and 8, respectively, and their cousin, Alexis Espejo Quozada, 10.

The children were beaten and had their throats cut so deeply they were nearly decapitated in their Fallstaff home on May 27, 2004. Perez, their uncle, and Canela, their cousin, were arrested and charged with the killings a day later.

Their first trial ended in a mistrial in 2005 because of confusing testimony and scant evidence, jurors said at the time. The second trial resulted in murder convictions and life sentences for the men a year later. But the convictions were overturned in June of this year because a judge failed to share jury notes expressing evidence concerns with attorneys. The city state's attorney's office announced in July that it would retry the case.

If convicted again on all counts, the men could be sentenced to life in prison without parole, plus 30 years.

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