Manuel Mata III’s daughter testified Wednesday that she hid in her bedroom closet after hearing gunshots that killed Mata’s girlfriend and the girlfriend’s 17-year-old daughter.
Prosecutors have said during Mata’s capital murder trial that Maria Flores wanted out of her tumultuous three-year relationship before he killed her in June 2013.
Xcliklalis Mata, now 24, countered that by testifying that she heard screaming before the gunfire and that her father left the house.
“It was like, boom boom, and it was a lot of them,” she testified on her father’s behalf about the gunshots she heard, speaking softly and crying. “I got up and locked my door and ran into the closet.”
After the shots rang out, she said, she looked out her bedroom window and saw her father walk into the home in the 5500 block of Cotton Street in east Las Vegas.
She said she called her grandfather — Mata’s father.
“I told him there was gunshots, and I didn’t know what to do,” she said. “Then I heard the Suburban drive up into the driveway. I saw my dad walking up. I was scared. I heard the last gunshot.”
Prosecutors have said Mata fired the shots that killed 43-year-old Flores and her 17-year-old daughter, Elizabeth Gomez, and that he shot her 4-year-old daughter, Sophia Trujillo, in the neck. Then, he fired a shotgun blast into his chin.
Mata survived with a facial deformity and faces the death penalty if convicted of murder.
The youngest child also survived and suffers from physical and mental disabilities, prosecutors said.
Through testimony, defense attorneys tried to paint a different picture: that Mata quarrelled with Flores the morning of the shooting but left before she was killed by intruders.
He returned, found Flores and her daughters shot and then pointed a gun at his chin and pulled the trigger, prosecutors said.
On cross examination from Chief Deputy District Attorney Marc DiGiacomo, Xcliklalis Mata acknowledged that her testimony was “significantly different” from in 2013, when she told police she did not hear yelling in the home before the shots.
The prosecutor asked why she did not call her father after hearing the shots.
“I always call my grandfather,” she said.
“Why is not the next phone call you make to your father?” DiGiacomo asked.
“Because I’m in shock.”
She told police that the doors to the house were usually locked at night.
“Can you explain to me how that door was locked if it wasn’t your father who had done the shooting?” the prosecutor asked.
“It could’ve been unlocked,” she replied. “I’m not sure.”
One of Mata’s attorneys, Gary Modafferi, then asked, “Are you testifying falsely to protect your father?”
“No,” she said.
In the weeks leading up to her death, Flores told Manuel Mata she wanted to leave, and she had pulled pictures from the wall of their home, though he had tried to persuade her to stay.
Along with two counts of first-degree murder, Mata faces charges of attempted murder with use of a deadly weapon, trafficking in a controlled substance and three counts of possession of a stolen firearm.
Prosecutors argued that Mata had become increasingly angry and jealous in the relationship. Investigators found 41 grams of cocaine inside the home, along with 13 firearms, including three stolen weapons. Police said at the time that Mata had financial troubles and had been drinking heavily before the shooting.
Jurors could begin deliberating Mata’s guilt Friday.