NEW BRAUNFELS — Testimony began Tuesday afternoon in the murder trial of Paul Mata, 54, the New Braunfels man accused of killing his wife of two weeks inside their home then telling authorities she died of an accident after an apparent drug overdose.
Attorneys in the Comal County jury trial before Judge Dib Waldrip began selecting jury members Monday morning, a process that concluded Tuesday afternoon. Both lawyers said the trial could last several days and possibly even stretch into next week.
Assistant District Attorney Steve Harkins laid out his case before the jury in his opening statement Tuesday. He said jurors would hear testimony proving that Mata caused his wife Diana Mata’s death almost two years ago by beating her with his hand and/or fist and a 9mm pistol.
Harkins said New Braunfels Police Department investigators were leery of Mata’s initial statements saying his wife had overdosed on drugs. It will be up to the jury to decide what is the truth, Harkins said.
“There were only two people there that night, Paul Mata and Diana Mata, and she’s been silenced,” Harkins said.
On Tuesday, Harkins called his first witnesses, the first officer on the scene and an emergency room nurse. Both noted significant cuts and bruises all over Diana Mata’s body.
Officer John Mahoney said he was sent to the Matas’ home for an apparent overdose. When he arrived, Mahoney testified, Diana Mata, 46, was on the floor of her bedroom and showed no signs of life.
Mahoney said that Paul Mata told him Diana had fallen in the house and hit her head. Mahoney testified that the wounds on Diana’s arms were consistent with defensive wounds a person might suffer while protecting herself from an attack.
Paul Mata’s defense attorney, Timothy Walker of New Braunfels, then asked Mahoney if the wounds were definitely defensive in nature. Mahoney said they could have been sustained in another fashion.
Walker said he chose to withhold his opening statement until he presents his side of the case. He said from the looks of things, that might not happen until late this week or sometime next week.
Waldrip sent the jury home for the day about 5 p.m. Tuesday and told them to return for more testimony at 8:30 a.m. today.
On Oct. 15, 2010, Mata called 9-1-1 from his home in the 400 block of Schmidt Street, saying his wife had overdosed. EMS paramedics took Diana Mata to Christus Santa Rosa Hospital-New Braunfels.
An autopsy later revealed she had died of blunt force trauma to the head.
Mata remains in the Comal County Jail under $100,000 bond. He faces punishment of between five to 99 years or life in prison.