A motion claims Marine's ex-girlfriend stopped cooperating when an HSI agent revealed his secret
8:13 PM, Oct 22, 2013
8:48 AM, Oct 23, 2013
TAMPA, Fla. -
As a former US Marine prepares for trial in December, a motion filed Tuesday claims a key witness refuses to cooperate with his defense attorney after someone revealed his love letters from inside the Falkenburg Road Jail.
Matthew Buendia, 24, is charged with attempted murder of a law enforcement officer. According to investigators, he opened fire on HCSO Deputy Lyonelle De Veaux on September 20, 2011 when she responded to a 911 call about domestic violence.
He has been in solitary confinement ever since. The woman who called that night was his girlfriend, Jessica Gipson, who reported that Buendia attacked her.
According to the motion filed Tuesday in Hillsborough County court, Gipson cooperated with Buendia's defense team for the first month after his arrest, attending almost every meeting with his family as well as court hearings.
"Then she does a complete 180 and is no longer cooperating with them," said criminal defense attorney Mark Rankin.
Rankin calls Gipson a star witness, but one who stopped cooperating with Buendia's defense team about a month after the incident.
The court documents report she "abruptly ceased her relationship" with Buendia, stating "I'm done with him."
Gipson tells Buendia's attorney, Mark O'Brien, that someone inside the Faulkenburg Road Jail gave privileged information to a Homeland Security Agent. The information included his jail phone calls as well as incoming and outgoing letters.
In them, Gipson learned Buendia was cheating on her.
Rankin questions why, if true, a jail employee would hand such information to a Homeland Security agent.
"Then the second, perhaps more interesting question is, why did that federal agent then provide that information to the girlfriend?" Rankin said.
Only Gipson knows the details, but in a recent pre-trial deposition meeting, Gipson refuses to reveal the identity of the person who told her, only saying that a Homeland Security agent approached her, met with her personally and voluntarily, claiming she did not seek out any information.
That information led her to cease interactions with Buendia and his defense attorney.
"I believe you said that you found out through his e-mails that he had made unflattering comments about you, your physical appearance…your sex life and, just your personality compared to other women?" O'Brien says.
"That's correct," Gipson responds.
Gipson refused to identify the agent, however, which is the subject of the motion to compel filed Tuesday. It may become a focus of Buendia's case, which is centered on his battle with PTSD after 4 violent years of deployments to Iraq, Somalia, and Afghanistan.
Gipson cites a federal law that protects undercover agents, an argument Rankin believes won't hold up in court.
"It's not meant for this situation," Rankin said.
"If this person is run-of-the-mill Homeland Security agent who's working locally on the various issues they might work on, that statute won't apply."
Wednesday morning, the motion will go before Judge Ronald Ficarrotta, who will decide what details Gipson must divulge.
ABC Action News asked for comments from both the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office as well as Homeland Security. Both agencies planned to look into the matter, but had not heard anything at the time of this report.