Sentences: Appeal and Error. An appellate
court will not disturb a sentence imposed within the
statutory limits absent an abuse of discretion by the trial
Judges: Words and Phrases. A judicial abuse
of discretion exists when the reasons or rulings of a trial
judge are clearly untenable, unfairly depriving a litigant of
a substantial right and denying just results in matters
submitted for disposition.
Constitutional Law: Minors: Sentences. Life
imprisonment without the possibility of parole for juveniles
convicted of nonhomicide offenses is unconstitutional; such
juvenile offenders must be given some meaningful opportunity
for relief based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation.
Constitutional Law: Homicide: Minors:
Sentences. There is no categorical bar against life
sentences without parole for juveniles convicted of homicide
offenses; however, the sentencing court must consider
specific, individualized factors before handing down a
sentence of life imprisonment without parole for a juvenile.
Homicide: Sentences. Felony murder is a
homicide offense, and there is no bar against sentences of
life without parole.
Constitutional Law: Criminal Law: Sentences.
The Eighth Amendment does not require strict proportionality
between crime and sentence, but, rather, forbids only extreme
sentences that are grossly disproportionate to the crime.
from the District Court for Douglas County: J Russell Derr,
Neb. 408] Adam J. Sipple, of Johnson & Mock, P.C.,
L.L.O., for appellant.
Douglas J. Peterson, Attorney General, and Melissa R. Vincent
Heavican, C.J., Wright, Miller-Lerman, Cassel, Stacy, Kelch,
and Funke, JJ.
M. Mantich was convicted of first degree murder and use of a
weapon to commit a felony. He was initially sentenced to life
imprisonment on the murder conviction; he was later granted
postconviction relief in the form of resentencing as a result
of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Miller v.
Alabama. Following a hearing, Mantich was sentenced
to 90 years' to 90 years' imprisonment on the first
degree murder conviction. He appeals. We affirm.
was convicted of first degree murder and use of a weapon to
commit a felony in September 1994. The following factual
recitation is from this court's 2014 opinion vacating
Mantich's life sentence:
On December 5, 1993, a gathering was held to mourn the death
of a "Lomas" gang member. Several members of the
gang attended the party, including Mantich, Gary Brunzo,
Daniel Eona, Juan Carrera, and Angel Huerta. At the
gathering, Mantich consumed between 5 and 10 beers and smoked
marijuana in a 21/2-hour period.
Sometime after 1 a.m., Carrera decided that he wanted to
steal a car and commit a driveby shooting of a member [295
Neb. 409] of a rival gang. While holding a gun, Eona
responded that he also wanted to steal a car and talked about
"jackin: somebody" and "putting a gun to their
head." Brunzo and Eona then walked toward Dodge Street
to steal a vehicle. They returned about 20 minutes later in a
stolen red mini-van, and Carrera and Huerta got in. Over his
girlfriend's objection and attempt to physically restrain
him, Mantich also got into the van.
The van had no rear seats. Eona was in the driver's seat,
and Brunzo was in the front passenger seat. Carrera sat
behind the driver's seat; Huerta sat on the passenger
side, close to the sliding side door; and Mantich sat behind
Carrera and Huerta, toward the back of the van. After a short
time, Mantich realized that a man, later identified as Henry
Thompson, was in the van. Thompson was kneeling between the
driver's seat and the front passenger seat with his hands
over his head and his head facing the front of the van.
The gang members began chanting "Cuz" and
"Blood." Mantich thought the purpose was to make
Thompson believe they were affiliated with a different gang.
Eona demanded Thompson's money, and Brunzo told Thompson
they were going to shoot him. Mantich saw Brunzo and Eona
poke Thompson in the head with their guns. Eventually, a shot
was fired and Thompson was killed. Thompson's body was
pulled out of the van and left on 13th Street.
The group then drove to Carrera's house so he could
retrieve his gun. After this, they drove by a home and fired
several shots at it from the vehicle. Later, they sank the
van in the Missouri River and walked back to 13th Street.
From there, Mantich and Huerta took all the guns and went to
Huerta's house to hide them. Brunzo, Eona, and Carrera
walked toward the area of Thompson's body.
[295 Neb. 410] After hiding the guns with Huerta, Mantich
walked to Brian Dilly's house. While still intoxicated,
Mantich told Dilly and Dilly's brothers about the events
of the night. Mantich claimed he had pulled the trigger and
killed Thompson. When the 6 o'clock news featured a story
on the homicide, Mantich said, '"I told you so,
'" and "'I told you I did it.'"
About an hour after the newscast, Mantich told Dilly that
Brunzo was actually the person who shot and killed Thompson.
The police later learned about Mantich's conversations
with Dilly, and arrest warrants were issued for Mantich,
Brunzo, Eona, and Carrera. Mantich was arrested on January 4,
Mantich agreed to talk with Omaha police about what happened
and initially claimed that Brunzo shot Thompson. The police
told Mantich that statements were being obtained from Brunzo,
Eona, and Carrera and that Mantich's statement was
inconsistent with the information the police had acquired.
The police also told Mantich that Dilly said Mantich
confessed to shooting Thompson. Mantich admitted telling
Dilly he shot Thompson, but explained that it was a lie and
that he was only trying to look like "a bad ass."
Mantich claimed that he had not shot anyone and that Brunzo
was the shooter.
The police then told Mantich they knew what happened and
assured Mantich that his family and girlfriend "would
not abandon him" if he told the truth. At this point,
Mantich admitted that he had pulled the trigger. Mantich
said, '"I'm sorry it happened. I wished it
wouldn't have happened.'" Mantich further
stated, "'They handed me the gun and said shoot him,
so I did it.'" Mantich again confessed during a
taped statement to shooting Thompson.
Mantich testified in his own behalf at trial. He acknowledged
his statements to Dilly and the police that he had shot
Thompson, but told the jury that he had not shot Thompson. On
September 26, 1994, the jury returned a [295 Neb. 411]
verdict of guilty on one charge of first degree murder and
one charge of use of a firearm to commit a
was 15 years old at the time of the commission of the acts
leading to his convictions. His murder conviction was based
upon felony murder with the underlying felonies of
kidnapping, robbery, or both. Mantich was sentenced to life
imprisonment on the first degree murder conviction and 5 to
20 years' imprisonment on the use conviction.
Mantich's convictions and sentences were affirmed on
subsequently filed a motion for postconviction relief, which
was granted by this court following the U.S. Supreme Court's
decision in Miller. Mantich's life sentence for
first degree murder was vacated and the cause was remanded
resentencing, a hearing was held. At that hearing, Mantich
offered evidence, including the deposition of a
neuropsychologist who testified ...