CRIME

Moises Meraz-Espinoza, Man Who Killed Mom In Alleged Satanic Ritual, Gets 25 Years To Life In Prison

07/18/2013 02:47 pm 14:47:42

Moises Meraz-Espinoza, a Los Angeles man who killed and dismembered his mother in 2011, was sentenced Wednesday to 25 years to life in prison.

Meraz-Espinoza, now 21, turned himself in to police in Huntington Park, Calif., two years ago and confessed to killing his mother, L.A. Weekly reported at the time. He was convicted in June.

According to the Los Angeles Times, investigators who searched the scene of the slaying found the body of Meraz-Espinoza's mother, 42-year-old Amelia Espinoza, skinned and cut into pieces with a circular saw, with organs removed and chunks of skin and flesh stored in a freezer.

Details from the scene soon emerged, but the grisliest were of the victim's severed head. "The woman's skull, with all her teeth plucked out, her eyes removed and two upside-down crosses carved into the bone, was stashed in a backpack," according to the L.A. Times.

A coroner's report found that Amelia Espinoza had "died of asphyxia and neck compression," CBS Los Angeles reported at the time, indicating that the mutilation of the body occurred after death.

Investigators recovered a satanic bible with a chapter on human sacrifice near the crime scene, and prosecutors argued that the killing had been a satanic ritual, according to the Long Beach Press-Telegram.

Prosecutors claimed that the date of death corresponded to a day of human or animal sacrifice in the satanic calendar, and cited the accused's tattoos of satanic imagery as evidence of his involvement in satanism. That involvement was denied by the defense, although prosecutors called the killing a "human sacrifice," according to KTLA.

Following Meraz-Espinoza's 2011 arrest, outlets initially reported that the man, then 19, had been distraught and depressed following the death of a girlfriend in an automobile accident.

Satanic ritual or not, Judge Thomas I. McKnew Jr., who sentenced Meraz-Espinoza in Los Angeles County Superior Court, called the case one of "the most disgusting, hideous and vulgar" he'd ever seen.

"I don't know what I can say to turn your life around, but you'll have a lot of time to think about it," he said in court Wednesday, according to the L.A. Times.

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