SANTA BARBARA MAN SENTENCED TO 25 YEARS TO LIFE IN PRISON FOR KILLING HIS MOTHER IN HER HOME AND DISPOSING OF VICTIM’S BODY IN LA HABRA

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A man was sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison today for killing his mother in her home and disposing of the victim’s body in La Habra.

Defendant Charges Sentence
Gabriel Antonio Espinoza, 33, Santa Maria Found guilty by a jury on March 3, 2017, of:

  • One felony count of first degree murder
25 years to life in state prison

Circumstances of the Case:

  • In the early morning hours of July 17, 2014, Espinoza killed his mother, 58-year-old Emma Espinoza-Posadas, in her Lompoc home.
  • The victim died of asphyxiation due to severe chest compression. Espinoza moved his mother’s body to her car and drove south to La Habra.
  • On July 18, 2014, Espinoza disposed of Espinoza-Posadas’ body behind a carport in a residential area of La Habra.
  • Three days later on July 21, 2014, a passerby discovered the victim and called 911.
  • The La Habra Police Department (LHPD) responded to the scene.
  • During the course of their investigation, LHPD identified Espinoza as a suspect and arrested the defendant in Santa Maria on Dec. 23, 2014.

At the sentencing, the victim’s sister was present in court and delivered a victim impact statement pursuant to Marsy’s Law. She shared how her sister Emma came from humble beginnings as a daughter of Spanish-speaking farm workers; she learned and eventually mastered English, graduating with honors all the way through to a master’s degree. The victim’s sister stated in part, “I can’t imagine the fear and excruciating pain she endured in the final moments of her life… She should be alive today still.”

Prosecutor: Senior Deputy District Attorney Troy Pino, Homicide Unit.

Orange County District Attorney / Case # 14NF5173 / December 22, 2017

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