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Hung Jury in Md. Immigrant Murders

August 30, 2005

BALTIMORE (AP) _ The murder trial of two Mexican immigrants accused of nearly beheading three young relatives ended Tuesday with the jury unable to reach a verdict after 11 days of deliberations.

Adan Canela, 18, and Policarpio Espinoza, 23, were accused in the murders of 9-year-old Ricardo Espinoza Jr., his 8-year-old sister, Lucero Espinoza, and their 10-year-old cousin, Alexis Espejo Quezada. The children were found dead in their apartment in May 2004.

Canela and Espinoza were charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy and would have faced life imprisonment if convicted.

Prosecutors said immediately that they would retry the case, which sickened police and residents of the crime-hardened city.

``These children and the community at large deserves justice and closure in this case,″ prosecutor Sharon Holback said.

Timothy Dixon, Espinoza’s attorney, said he had confidence in the jury throughout the trial.

``This is the kind of case that, when you take the emotions out of it, there just isn’t a lot of evidence there,″ Dixon said.

Family and friends of the defendants declined to comment as they left the courthouse. The parents had expressed doubts whether Canela, a cousin of the victims, and Espinoza, an uncle, were the killers.

Authorities never put forward a clear motive for the crimes, and the defense suggested the children may have been killed after their parents failed to pay for being smuggled into the United States.

The family is from Tenenexpan, a small town in the Mexican state of Veracruz. The children were born in Mexico and came to the United States with their parents.

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