A man described by a prosecutor as a Satanic follower was sentenced Wednesday to 25 years to life in prison for murdering his mother, whose butchered remains were found in a freezer in the Maywood apartment they shared.
Moises Meraz-Espinoza, 21, was convicted in June of first-degree murder for the Feb. 2, 2011, asphyxiation of his mother, Amelia Espinoza. The 42-year-old woman’s body was skinned with a knife and box cutters and dismembered with a saw, with all of her organs removed and never recovered, according to Deputy District Attorney Heba Matta.
Two upside-down crosses also were found carved into the woman’s skull, which was found with numerous bones and teeth in Meraz-Espinoza’s backpack, according to Matta. Her skin and flesh were discovered in the freezer.
Norwalk Superior Court Judge Thomas I. McKnew told Meraz-Espinoza the 25- years-to-life sentence was a punishment “that you certainly deserve,” citing the “hideous carving up of your mother’s body.”
The judge said the defendant skinned his mother, put some of her remains in bags, then went on with his life “as though nothing happened.”
During the trial, Matta called the killing “very symbolic,” noting that it occurred on Feb. 2 – a Satanic holiday that involves human or animal sacrifice. A Satanic bible that contained a chapter on human sacrifice was found inside the apartment the then-18-year-old man shared with his mother, the prosecutor said.
Meraz-Espinoza – who walked into the Huntington Park police station two days later at a cousin’s urging and told police he had killed his mother and dismembered her body – got a tattoo of a Satanic cross behind his left ear while in jail, according to the prosecutor.
In court Wednesday, defense attorney Jonathan Roberts questioned whether the killing was related to Satanic worship.
“There’s a lot of dispute about that,” he said.
Roberts contended that Matta was relying on a 50-year-old understanding of Satanic worship, noting that Satanists do not believe in human sacrifice.