SAN LUIS OBISPO — Matthew Leroy Ehens (38) of Arroyo Grande was sentenced to 8 years-to-life in state prison for his August conviction on felony charges of torture and elder abuse against his 79-year-old adoptive mother after he poured boiling peanut oil on her and stabbed her in the back with a large kitchen knife during an argument.

District Attorney Dan Dow announced that Matthew Leroy Ehens was sentenced by the Honorable Jacquelyn H. Duffy to 8 years-to-life on felony charges of torture and elder abuse of his 79-year-old adoptive mother. Ehens was convicted by a plea of no contest on Aug 25.

On August 2, 2019, during an argument with his mother at their home in Arroyo Grande, Ehens poured a pot of boiling peanut oil on her upper body and face. He then stabbed her in the back with a large kitchen knife before fleeing in his car and eventually engaging in a high-speed chase with law enforcement until Ehens crashed his vehicle and was arrested.

The elderly victim suffered serious burns on over 17 percent of her body and received extensive medical treatment, including hospitalization for a month and a skin grafting operation.


“This life sentence is appropriate considering the unimaginable pain the defendant inflicted upon this courageous elder adult survivor who loved and raised him,” said District Attorney Dan Dow. “Our community will not tolerate elder abuse. I encourage those who suffer from or witness elder abuse to report these crimes to law enforcement.”

The case was investigated by the Arroyo Grande Police Department and the San Luis Obispo County Sherriff’s Office with the assistance of the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Kristin Barnard, with substantial support from the District Attorney’s Christopher G. Money Victim Witness Assistance Center. 

For information and resources on elder abuse, please click here for our Victim Witness Assistance Center webpage.

Click here to view a copy of the charging document. Click here to view a copy of the defendant’s booking photo.

Please contact Assistant District Attorney Eric J. Dobroth at 805.781.5819 with any questions.