Carmel Valley woman pleads not guilty in mother’s slaying


A woman accused of beating and stabbing her 73-year-old mother with a knife and meat tenderizing tool in their Carmel Valley home pleaded not guilty on Wednesday, June 24, to a murder charge and was ordered held on $3 million bail.

Lara Epstein, 51, has been dealing with mental health problems, according to her family, and there was tension between Epstein and her mother, Svetlana Gurinova, said Deputy District Attorney Scott Pirrello.

Gurinova had moved into the Carmel Valley home recently, according to the prosecutor.

On June 16, while other family members were out of town, the defendant called to say there was some kind of problem, Pirrello told Judge David Szumowski.

Police were called about 10:30 p.m. and found the victim on the laundry room floor. Pirrello said Gurinova had stab wounds to the head, neck and chest and had been severely beaten. The prosecutor said plastic bags were covering the victim’s head and feet, and there had been an effort to clean up the scene.

The knife and meat tenderizer — believed to have been used in the killing — were found in the home, Pirrello said.

Epstein, who at times made “rambling” statements to police, was arrested at the scene.

Epstein — who was born in Russia but is a U.S. citizen — will be back in court July 1 for a status conference. A preliminary hearing is set for July 7.

She faces 26 years to life in prison if convicted.