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November 24, 2014

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North Las Vegas man gets prison in machete attack

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Steve Marcus

Armando Vergara-Martinez appears in court during his trial at the Clark County Regional Justice Center Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014. Martinez is accused of attacking Maria Gomez with a machete in the parking lot of a North Las Vegas convenience store in 2012.

Updated Friday, May 9, 2014 | 10:01 a.m.

A North Las Vegas man was sentenced to what could be the rest of his life in Nevada state prison for splitting his ex-girlfriend's scalp and nearly hacking off her arms with a machete in March 2012.

Armando Vergara-Martinez apologized in Spanish during his sentencing Thursday. KTNV-TV reported that a woman who was there to support him collapsed in the hallway afterward. A court spokeswoman said Friday the woman was not hospitalized.

Clark County District Judge Abbi Silver sentenced Vergara-Martinez to 26 to 65 years in prison. The judge said the attack must have been excruciating for the victim, Maria Del Carmen Gomez.

Gomez survived the attack, and surgeons repaired her scalp and reattached her hands. She spent several months as an advocate for tougher laws against domestic violence before she died six months later from unrelated cancer. She was 53.

Victor Ortiz, Gomez's brother, said Thursday he was satisfied that Vergara-Martinez, 52, would be in prison for a long time.

A jury in February found Vergara-Martinez guilty of attempted murder, rejecting his testimony that he was so drunk that he had no memory of attacking Gomez outside a North Las Vegas convenience store where she worked.

Vergara-Martinez left a letter before the attack and slit his own throat with a box cutter afterward. North Las Vegas Police found him in a parking lot next to Gomez in a pool of blood.

The jury also convicted Vergara-Martinez of mayhem and domestic battery with a weapon charges that he didn't contest during his two-day trial.

Deputy Clark County Public Defender Tegan Machnich has said she expected Vergara-Martinez would appeal. Machnich didn't immediately respond Friday to messages.

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