June 20, 2009
Nebraska Supreme Court dismisses lethal-injection appeal
The Nebraska Supreme Court has dismissed a challenge to Nebraska's new lethal injection law filed earlier this month by death row inmate Raymond Mata Jr.
In filing a motion on Mata's behalf, attorney Jerry Soucie, with the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy, said the lethal injection bill, passed by the Legislature in late May and going into effect Aug. 30, was flawed.
He also filed a motion to replace Mata's death sentence with a sentence of life imprisonment. That motion was overruled as moot.
Soucie said he wasn’t surprised by the court's ruling Friday. It will pave the way for issues to be raised in future appeals, he said. It also clarified the issue of the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction.
Mata was sentenced to death for the 1999 killing of his former girlfriend's 3-year-old son, Adam Gomez. Prosecutors said Mata, of Scottsbluff, dismembered the boy, and kept some of his remains in the home to intimidate the mother.
Mata's motion said, among other things, LB36 unconstitutionally delegated authority to the executive branch to determine the lethal injection protocol and procedures. Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning has said the crafting of the law was thorough, taking into account what other states have done and what the U.S. Supreme Court has found to be constitutional.
In dismissing the case, the court said the only circumstances that have changed since Mata filed a similar motion in October were the passage of time and of the lethal injection bill.
"What has not changed, however, is this court’s lack of jurisdiction based on the facts of this case as they currently exist," the court said.
Bruning said Mata's death sentence was affirmed by the court in an earlier ruling, and that decision is final.
"Criminals who commit the ultimate crime deserve the ultimate penalty," he said.
Soucie said he would file a new state appeal on behalf of Mata in the next week to 10 days.
(source: Lincoln Journal Star)
Inmate Personal Information
Crime and Trial Information
* County of conviction: Keith (on
change of venue from Scottsbluff
* Number of counts: One
* Race of Victims: Hispanic
* Gender of Victims: Male
* Date of crime: On or about March
* Date of Sentencing: 06/01/2000
On appeal from second death
State v. Mata, 668 N.W.2d 448 (Neb. 2003) (reversing in part and
remanding for new penalty phase hearing, holding that violation of
Ring v. Arizona in imposing death sentence was plain error), cert.
denied, 543 U.S. 1128 (2005); State v. Mata, 745 N.W.2d 229 (Neb.)
(affirming sentence and staying execution because electric chair
violates 8th amendment), cert. denied, 129 S.Ct. 228 (2008); see
also State v. Rogers, 760 N.W.2d 35 (Neb. 2009) (abrogating State v.
Mata, 668 N.W.2d 448, holding that it is a mixed question of law and
fact whether a statement was voluntarily made, whether a custodial
interrogation has occurred, whether sufficient Miranda warnings
were given to the suspect, whether properly advised Miranda rights
On appeal after second death sentence:
1. whether Nebraska's capital sentencing scheme violates the 8th
2. whether the aggravator instruction was unconstitutionally vague;
3. whether jurors are required to unanimously agree on the means by
which a capital defendant manifested aggravator of exceptional
4. whether the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment in
federal and state Constitutions is a restraint upon the exercise of
5. whether death by electrocution violates prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment
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