2 sentenced to 25 years for Highlands murder

HIGHLANDS – Two men were sentenced last week to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to killing a friend they got in a fight with in 2021, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced.

“This was a brutal and senseless murder carried out by two young men who will now spend decades behind bars,” Ogg said. “There are consequences for every action and in this case, justice was served.”

Leroy Lopez and Christopher Paz, both 19, were sentenced this week after admitting to fatally shooting 17-year-old Abraham Mata on April 4, 2021.

The three men, all 17 at the time, were at a trailer house in the 400 block of East Wallisville Road when a fight broke out. Witnesses said all three were “highly intoxicated.” Lopez apparently picked up Mata and slammed him to the ground, knocking him unconscious. Mata was then dragged out of the trailer house and shot twice.

Lopez and Paz then dragged Mata’s body to the back of a wooded area behind a church in Highlands. His body was then stabbed several times. The next day, both men were detained by police after they were seen nearby acting suspiciously. Paz then led police to the body and told investigators what had happened.

Lopez pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 25 years in prison by state District Judge Te’iva Bell on Monday. Paz pleaded guilty in exchange for 25 years in prison on Wednesday.

Assistant Harris County District Attorney Catherine Johnson, a chief prosecutor who handled the cases, said the sentences brought closure to the victim’s family.

“Leroy Lopez and Christopher Paz were both convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison this week for the gruesome murder of Abraham Mata,” Johnson said. “Our community is much safer with these two individuals in prison, and we are grateful to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office for apprehending them quickly following the murder.”