Evidence suggests 2 knives were used to kill 3 children


Jurors heard evidence for the first time yesterday that a second knife might have been used in the slashing deaths of three children last year in Northwest Baltimore.

During the trial of the two men accused of the crimes, a forensic scientist testified about apparent blood spatter on a light blue pair of jeans found in the bedroom of the Baltimore County home where the defendants lived. One pattern formed the shape of a knife with a 3-inch blade and a 4 1/2 -inch handle, according to the scientist, Salvatore Bianca.

Prosecutors said in opening statements that Policarpio Espinoza wore the light blue jeans, which they said are stained with the children's blood. A darker pair of stained blue jeans, which were found in the trunk of a Pontiac Grand Am used by the defendants, can be connected through DNA to the other suspect, Adan Canela, prosecutors have said.

Bianca testified that the darker pair of jeans bore 20 blood stains, mostly on the front around the knees.

Espinoza, 23, and Canela, 18, are on trial in Baltimore Circuit Court in the killings of their three young relatives. They face three counts of first-degree murder and conspiracy charges in the deaths of Lucero Espinoza, 8, her brother, Ricardo, 9, and their male cousin, Alexis Espejo Quezada, 10, whose bodies were found May 27, 2004, in the family's Fallstaff apartment.

Bianca, who worked for the Baltimore Police Department until he retired in January, said the stains on the light pair of jeans formed two patterns, one of a knife and one of a partial shoe print.

Police did not find a knife that would match the pattern on the jeans, and no shoes collected in the case match the print.

Jurors have previously seen a 17-inch meat-cutting knife that police found near a fence behind the children's apartment. That knife, police witnesses testified, was covered in what appeared to be blood.

Prosecutors have not yet called to the witness stand any DNA experts to testify about whose blood is on the evidence.

Defense attorneys began cross-examining Bianca yesterday afternoon and are expected to thoroughly question him today about a vacuuming device that he used to collect skin cells from the clothing.

Sun staff writer Justin Fenton contributed to this article.

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