A Las Vegas man was convicted Monday of fatally shooting his girlfriend and her 17-year-old daughter, as well as critically wounding her 4-year-old daughter.
Along with one count of second-degree murder in the slaying of Maria Flores and one count of first-degree murder in the death of her daughter, Elizabeth Gomez, Manuel Mata III was found guilty of one count of attempted murder with the use of a deadly weapon and one count of trafficking in a controlled substance.
Mata faces the death penalty in a separate phase of his trial set to begin Tuesday morning. He showed no emotion after the guilty verdict was read but glanced back at family members in the courtroom gallery. The same jury is tasked with deciding his sentence.
At trial, prosecutors said Mata shot Flores on the morning of June 1, 2013, after she prepared to end their three-year relationship.
Flores had packed suitcases and taken their pictures down from the wall of their home in the 5500 block of Cotton Street in east Las Vegas.
In the days before the killings, Mata sent Flores a text message that prosecutors suggested showed he had planned the crime.
“I’m never gonna let you go,” the message sent on May 30, 2013, read. “Your (sic) stuck with me forever.”
Flores’ younger child, Sophia Trujillo, was critically wounded by a gunshot to her neck.
After shooting the others, Mata fired a shotgun blast into his chin and survived with a facial deformity.
His defense attorneys have acknowledged Mata shot himself but argued that an intruder killed Flores and her daughter and shot the younger child before Mata arrived home and discovered the crime scene.
Throughout the trial, prosecutors tried to show that Mata had become increasingly angry and jealous in the relationship. Investigators found 41 grams of cocaine in the home, along with 13 firearms, including three reportedly stolen weapons. Prosecutors said Mata had financial troubles and had been drinking heavily before the shooting.
Jurors found Mata not guilty of three counts of possession of a stolen firearm.