NEW BRAUNFELS — Comal County jurors apparently didn’t believe the defense’s theory that Diana Mata was already dying of a stroke when her husband Paul C. Mata beat her to death at their home in October 2010.
After testimony Thursday afternoon in the first-degree murder trial’s penalty phase, the jury of eight women and four men sentenced Mata, 54, of New Braunfels, to life in prison and a $10,000 fine.
After Judge Dib Waldrip read the sentence, Mata was taken out of the courtroom.
Mata said he did not want to hear a victim impact statement from Lupe Torres, Diana Mata’s mother.
Waldrip ordered him to return and Torres spoke directly to her daughter’s murderer.
“You have taken away a very precious part of me,” Torres said. “I have other children, but you took away my first born.”
Torres said she has forgiven Mata, but her forgiveness will not be enough for his salvation. For that he will have to settle with God, Torres said.
“I don’t know why you did this,” she said. “I’m just glad you were stopped from hurting anybody else ... I’m just glad justice was done.”
Barely a dry eye remained in the nearly packed courtroom as Torres talked to Mata through falling tears and a cracking voice.
Jurors had heard testimony earlier from two of Mata’s ex-wives, both of whom testified that he repeatedly beat them and threatened their lives. Mata had terrorized women for years and the jury did what was right, said Steven Harkins, Comal County assistant district attorney.
“I think they put away an evil man,” he said. “I hope it helps his prior victims and their families to heal from his acts of terror.”
“We’re sorry for the family’s loss,” said defense attorney Timothy Walker, who acknowledged Mata’s intent to appeal. “I understand the verdict. We wish the verdict was different.”
Mata beat his wife to death and called 9-1-1 on Oct. 15, 2010, to report that she had overdosed on drugs at his home in the 400 block of Schmidt Street. EMS paramedics took Diana Mata to Christus Santa Rosa Hospital-New Braunfels, where she was pronounced dead. An autopsy later revealed she had died of blunt force trauma to the head.
Jurors found Mata guilty of murder last week.