A Maywood man whom prosecutors described as a Satan worshiper was sentenced Wednesday for strangling and killing his mother, then dismembering her body.
Moises Meraz-Espinoza, 21, was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for the Feb. 2, 2011, slaying of Amelia Espinoza, 42.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Thomas I. McKnew Jr. said Meraz-Espinoza's crime "ranks right up there at the top" among "the most disgusting, hideous, and vulgar" cases he's seen in more than 50 years in the legal profession.
Prosecutors said that Meraz-Espinoza, who was 19 at the time of the slaying, used a rope to choke his mother, then skinned her and removed her organs. He stored her flesh in a freezer in their Maywood apartment, but her internal organs were never recovered.
Prosecutors argued that Meraz-Espinoza was a follower of the church of Satan, and that he was performing a ritual human sacrifice.
During the trial this spring, defense attorney Jonathan Roberts disputed that his client acted alone. After the sentence Wednesday, Roberts explained that the church of Satan has renounced ritual human sacrifice and said the prosecutor's argument relied on dated interpretations of satanic rituals.
A Norwalk jury convicted Meraz-Espinoza in June on one count of first-degree murder following one day of deliberations.
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