Suspect in killings of children called 'coldest person'

Sun Staff

The city police detective who interrogated two men accused of slashing the throats of three children last May said yesterday that the younger suspect was "the coldest person" he had ever interviewed.

Sgt. Darryl Massey's testimony came during the second day of pretrial motions for Adan Canela, 18, and Policarpio Espinoza, 23. Both are charged with first-degree murder in the killings of Canela's young cousins, two 9-year-olds and a 10-year-old. Espinoza is an uncle of Canela and the dead children.

Defense attorneys are trying to persuade a judge to keep a jury from hearing statements that Canela and Espinoza gave at police headquarters the night of and morning after the Northwest Baltimore killings.

Espinoza told detectives that he and Canela drove to the children's apartment, and that he waited outside in his car for 40 minutes while Canela was "playing with the children," according to charging documents.

Canela emerged shirtless from a rear window of the apartment, Espinoza told police, the documents say.

Massey, a 25-year Baltimore police veteran, testified yesterday that when he informed Canela of Espinoza's audiotaped statement, the young man leaned back in his chair in an "arrogant and aggressive manner."

Canela then told Massey something to the effect of "'Go get him. Let him come tell me what he said,'" the detective testified.

Massey said Canela had a cold, fearless look on his face. "This was a person, in a sense, without a soul," he said.

Canela refused to give a taped statement, Massey said.

The men's native language is Spanish, but Massey testified yesterday that both seemed to understand English and spoke the language a few times during the interviews.

Defense attorneys have argued that the statements they gave that night should be thrown out because the men were held in violation of their constitutional rights.

Although police said they did not consider Canela and Espinoza suspects when they arrived at police headquarters, they were placed in separate holding cells. But the doors to the cells were left open, and the men were not shackled or handcuffed, Massey testified.

"If [they] wanted to leave, [they] could have left," Massey testified. No one asked to leave, he said.

Before interviewing the men, Massey said, he had them review their rights to remain silent and to seek an attorney, and had them sign paperwork - which was in Spanish - agreeing that they were knowingly waiving those rights.

The defendant's relatives - also the relatives of the victims - repeated yesterday after court that they believe the police have the wrong men.

"We know that they are 100 percent innocent," said Victor Espinoza, Canela's father and Policarpio Espinoza's brother.

"The police are not doing their job," he said, speaking in Spanish. "They haven't been looking for the people who are guilty. The lawyers haven't shown any strong evidence to prove that they [Adan and Policarpio] are guilty."

Testimony this week revealed that police became interested in Canela and Policarpio Espinoza at the crime scene, a Fallstaff apartment complex, after they gave what appeared to be contradictory statements as to their whereabouts that day.

The older man told detectives that he had been working all day and then had gone to Fells Point with his nephew, Adan Canela, detectives testified.

But Canela told them he and "Uncle Policarpio" had spent the day at home watching television before heading to Fells Point.

Circuit Judge David B. Mitchell ruled that those statements can be presented to a jury. The trial is scheduled to start in June.

Mitchell is set to rule Monday, after hearing more testimony on the statements that the men gave at police headquarters.

Sun staff writer Kelly Brewington contributed to this article.

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