A panel of Nebraska judges resentenced Raymond Mata Jr. to death Thursday for the murder and dismemberment of his former girlfriend's 3-year-old son. The judges sentence affirmed the recommendation of a jury which said in January that Mata's crime warrants the death penalty. Mata showed little emotion in the courtroom as District Judge Robert Hippe, of Gering, read the sentence. "Mata's actions were so bereft of redemption that it demands the death penalty," Hippe said. As Mata was being escorted out of the courtroom Thursday, the boy's father, Robert Billie yelled, "You finally got what you deserved!" In response, Mata said, "Maybe." This is the second time Mata has been sentenced to death for this crime. Mata was convicted of the 1999 kidnapping and murder of 3-year-old boy Adam Gomez in Scottsbluff. Parts of the boy's body were found in Mata's freezer and in a dog bowl.Police found the clothing Adam Gomez had been wearing and his sleeping bag in the Dumpster behind Mata's house.The boy's clothes, a pair of men's blue jeans, a boning knife, a pair of men's slippers, and a red-and-blue bath towel with apparent blood stains also were found in a garbage bag. Mata was sentenced to death by a three-judge panel in 2000. But in 2003, the Nebraska Supreme Court ordered Mata to be resentenced after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling said juries, not judges, should determine whether a case warrants the death penalty. At the sentencing hearing in June, Mata's family members, including his former wife, two children, sister and mother, pleaded with the judges to let him live. Patricia Gomez, the mother of slain 3-year-old Adam Gomez, said at the time of the hearing that she hoped Mata receives the death penalty. The two other judges, besides Hippe, who decided Mata's sentence were John Sampson of Fremont and Robert Steinke of Columbus. In a separate appeal, Hippe ruled in April that Mata could face the penalty of death in the electric chair. Mata's attorneys had contended that electrocution is unconstitutional. But Hippe said that while the use of the electric chair could be considered outdated, it isn't cruel and unusual.Mata had been a suspect in the 1995 murder of a 17-year-old Scottsbluff boy, but a grand jury decided it did not have enough evidence to issue an indictment. The case remains unsolved.
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