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Monday, Nov 20, 2017
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Suspect not in neighbor's trial

TAMPA - a former U.S. Marine accused of shooting a sheriff's deputy was set for another court appearance today — as a prosecution witness. Prosecutors had subpoenaed Matthew Buendia to testify against a neighbor at the Inkwood Park Apartments in a misdemeanor domestic battery trial. Mark O'Brien, Buendia's attorney, said his client heard a woman living above him in the complex scream for help. Investigators said Gonzalo Moreno was arguing with his live-in girlfriend on July 11 when the woman ran to the bedroom and locked the door. The report said Moreno kicked it in, pushed the woman to the ground and stepped on her.
O'Brien said Buendia heard the woman's cries and rushed to her rescue, holding Moreno until deputies arrived. On Sept. 30, deputies returned to the complex on a domestic altercation call, this time involving Buendia and his girlfriend. But instead of saving the day, police say, Buendia pulled a pistol from under his shirt and shot at Deputy Lyonelle De Veaux nine times, hitting her three. Buendia, 24, is being held without bail on charges of attempted first-degree murder and aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer with a deadly weapon. Prosecutors subpoenaed Buendia as a witness in Moreno's non-jury trial. They changed their minds after O'Brien contacted the media. "Matthew Buendia has been released from subpoena and will not be a witness for the state," said Mark Cox, a spokesman for the Hillsborough County state attorney's office. Cox wouldn't elaborate. O'Brien questioned whether prosecutors are jeopardizing the Moreno case because they don't want to acknowledge Buendia was a hero. "What changed?" he said. "Is the state attorney's office playing politics with another victim's life?" O'Brien said the incident supports the defense contention that the former U.S. Marine was suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome from his combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Why would a decorated U.S. Marine shoot a police officer? This man has a spotless record," O'Brien said. "He saw and did awful things at the direction of his government." O'Brien recently did not object to his client being jailed without bail, saying his mental state made him a threat to himself and others. De Veaux was shot twice in the leg and once in the shoulder. She is recovering from the wounds.

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