SANTA ANA ( — A 29-year-old Santa Maria man could face the death penalty in the slaying of his mother.

Gabriel Antonio Espinoza was charged Friday in the July asphyxiation death of his mother, Emma Posadas-Espinoza, 58, of Lompoc. A man who was walking his dog in the 900 block of South Idaho Street in La Habra found the woman’s body about 4:30 a.m. on July 21, according to the La Habra Police Department.

A special circumstance allegation of murder for financial gain was also filed by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, making it possible that Posadas-Espinoza could be sentenced to death. The DA can decide later whether to actually pursue a death sentence, City News Service reported.

La Habra police Sgt. Dave Crivelli said the woman was only clad in underwear, and had no signs of trauma, and authorities believe she was killed several days before her body was found covered by leaves and plants behind a carport.

Posada-Espinoza, who was identified as a suspect during an investigation that included search warrants and other court orders, was arrested at his home by La Habra police detectives on Tuesday.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)



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