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SKIP THIS STORY if you have a delicate disposition or are easily upset

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
July 19th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The judge called it one of "the most disgusting, hideous and vulgar" cases in his 50-year career. California Judge Thomas I. McKnew sentenced Moises Meraz-Espinoza to 25 years to life in prison for the strangulation and dismemberment murder of his mother in what the prosecution argued was a satanic ritual.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "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," McKnew told Meraz-Espinoza at the sentencing hearing.

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Meraz-Espinoza walked into a police station in Huntington Park two years ago and voluntarily turned himself in. The details of the murder shock and nauseated the most hardened law enforcement officials.

A search of the Maywood apartment the defendant shared with his 42-year-old mother, Amelia Espinoza, revealed an especially horrific scene.

A trail of blood led to the bathroom, where plastic covered the walls and floor. There, they found an electrical circular saw with pieces of bone, blood and flesh stuck to the blade. Nearby, in a freezer, police found skin and muscles stored in plastic bags. The mother'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. 

Her internal organs have not yet been located .

"This crime was not in the heat of passion or rash and impulsive," Herb Matta, the prosecutor in the case, said. "It was done for the purpose of devotion. That's pretty much the ultimate sacrifice."

Meraz-Espinoza, who has several tattoos of upside down crosses as well as the number 666 behind his right ear, killed his mother on February 2 as it coincided with a day on the satanic calendar that calls for human sacrifice, the prosecution argued. "This was sheerly motivated by evil," Matta said.

The jury, which convicted Meraz-Espinoza in June heard testimony that the mother and son often fought over the death metal music he liked to listen to.

Twenty-one-year-old Meraz-Espinoza asked his cousin for help disposing of the body. She convinced him to go to the police instead.

Meraz-Espinoza's attorney, Jonathan Roberts, said prosecutors overstated Meraz-Espinoza's involvement in satanic worship and relied on dated interpretations of the church.

"The contemporary church of Satan doesn't believe in human sacrifice," Roberts said outside the courtroom. "I never bought that an [18-year-old] kid would adopt the principles of an organization from 50 years ago."

Roberts added that his client lacked the expertise to skin and dismember a person on his own and he referred to Meraz-Espinoza's later statements to police that two other people were also involved. Meraz-Espinoza's only role was helping cut up his mother after she was strangled, Roberts said.

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