In what Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Thomas I. McKnew Jr. called one of the “most disgusting, hideous and vulgar” cases he’d ever encountered in his 50 years regarding the legal profession, 21-year-old Moises Meraz-Espinoza was sentenced to 25 years to life last week for the murder and dismemberment of his own mother. The motive allegedly behind the crime was a satanic ritual pertaining to human sacrifice.
In a society where many people make light of inverted crosses, signs of the Devil, and the occult, there are some people who whole-heartedly believe in satanic rituals – no matter how ‘outdated’ some may claim the primary beliefs are. The defense attorney for Meraz-Espinoza, Jonathan Roberts, had claimed that the prosecution overplayed his client’s involvement in satanic worship, and that they hyped up interpretations of the church that he deemed outdated.
Roberts noted outside of the courtroom that the contemporary church of Satan doesn’t believe in human sacrifice, and that he did not believe that an 18-year-old would embrace the principles of an organization that dates back 50 years ago. However, just because the principles are deemed outdated by some, doesn’t justify or mean that the interpretation of others stays in line with what are reportedly current concepts of the church of Satan.
The crime scene where 42-year-old Amelia Espinoza was killed was described as gruesome and bloody, and certainly showed the signs of a ritualistic killing. In addition to a great deal of blood, an electrical circular saw was uncovered from the apartment that had pieces of bone, blood and flesh stuck to the blade. Plastic bags stored in the freezer contained skin and muscles. The woman’s skull was found inside of a backpack. All of the teeth were removed from the skull, as well as her eyes. Two upside-down crosses had been carved into the skull bone. Her internal organs were never recovered.
After Moises Meraz-Espinoza walked into the Huntington Park Police Department to report the crime of killing his mother two years ago, it was reported that she had been initially strangled and then skinned, filleted and dismembered. The prosecution called it a part of a satanic ritual. In June, a jury convicted Meraz-Espinoza of first-degree murder.
Initially, it was believed that Meraz-Espinoza acted in response to the recent death of his girlfriend, and was consumed by depression, but the prosecution believed there was enough evidence to suggest that he had been motivated by satanic beliefs, which he was described to have been “heavily entrenched in.”
For starters, Meraz-Espinoza has several tattoos related to satanic symbolism on his body, including a ‘666’ behind his right ear and upside-down crosses. A copy of a satanic bible was found close to the crime scene, which reportedly had a chapter on human sacrifice. Also, the date that his mother was murdered (Feb. 2, 2011) has been cited as a day on the satanic calendar that coincides with ritual human or animal sacrifice. Whereas crimes of passion or related to impulse often produce these kinds of results, it was said that Meraz-Espinoza’s actions signify that he was making the ultimate sacrifice, and that his act had been planned out all along.
It is reported that the relationship between mother and son had been strained for quite some time. Moises Meraz-Espinoza was known to disobey his mother, and it was noted that she had disapproved of his listening to death metal music. Others say that the mother had been in fear of her son. Whatever the motive behind such a horrific crime, it does seem that the son’s belief in Satanism played a crucial role in the death of Amelia Espinoza.