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No bail for now for former Marine accused of shooting Hillsborough deputy

TAMPA — One judge gave him bail. A day later, another judge took it away.

But the on-again, off-again status of whether a former Marine accused of trying to murder a deputy ultimately can bail out of jail — and whether the first judge made a mistake — won't be settled until another hearing Thursday.

On Monday, Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Walter Heinrich denied bail to Matthew Lane Buendia, 24, who was accused of shooting Deputy Lyonelle De Veaux three times as she responded to a domestic violence call last week at his Carrollwood apartment complex.

A court hearing Thursday afternoon will decide whether Buendia continues to be held in the Hillsborough County Jail without bail, or if the bail will remain at $65,000 — the amount initially set by a judge Sunday that sparked outrage and was quickly appealed.

Until then, he'll stay in jail.

"If they (prosecutors) prove what they have to prove, sir, then you will have no bond," Heinrich told Buendia during the hearing Monday. "If they do not prove what they have to prove, then the bond that was set over the weekend will be reinstituted."

The question of bail became an issue after the first judge to hold a hearing set one low enough to make possible Buendia's release from jail until trial.

On Sunday, during Buendia's brief first appearance in the case, Judge Cheryl Thomas had set his bail on a variety of charges at $65,000. Of that, $25,000 was set for the charge of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer.

Thomas, who is a family law judge, was on a weekend rotation and not working her usual shift.

Moments later, Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee jumped in to object, saying Buendia was a danger and should not be released. Gee asked the State Attorney's Office to appeal.

When Buendia was arrested and booked Saturday, the jail listed that he be held without bail pending his first court appearance. That's in keeping with an administrative court order that says suspects accused of certain violent offenses are ineligible for release until their first hearing before a judge.

Judges have discretion under state law in setting bail, the administrative order says, and are not bound by the bail schedule followed by jails.

Just how Thomas arrived at the $65,000 amount, however, is unclear. Records show Buendia had no criminal past in Florida.

It's also unclear why the prosecutor on duty that day did not try to fight the decision.

On Sunday, Assistant State Attorney Lucia Iler made no objections as Thomas read off the bail amount for Buendia, according to Bay News 9.

Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office spokesman Mark Cox said Monday he had not reviewed the transcript and couldn't comment on why Iler didn't raise an objection.

He said, however, that Buendia's case warrants no bail.

"We definitely feel he's a risk to the community," Cox said.

Buendia was arrested early Saturday at his apartment. Authorities say he approached Deputy De Veaux, who was investigating a call involving him, and fired nine shots, striking her three times.

On Monday, she was listed in good condition after recovering from surgery to have a bullet removed from her shoulder. She is expected to make a full recovery.

Several of Buendia's family members have said the ex-Marine suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Buendia served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and was discharged with back and knee problems, said his close friend Keith Davis.

Buendia kept much of the horror he had witnessed to himself, but shared some details, Davis said. While serving in the Middle East, Buendia saw friends fatally shot and watched as Humvees near him were bombed, knowing soldiers were burning to death.

The ex-Marine was going to Veterans Affairs for treatment, Davis said, but wasn't getting the help he needed.

Davis said he doesn't believe Buendia's past excuses his actions, but wrote in a message that Buendia has many friends who will be standing by his side.

"Anything we can do to help him and other soldiers alike, we will do without question," he wrote.

Staff writer Jodie Tillman contributed to this report.

No bail for now for former Marine accused of shooting Hillsborough deputy 10/03/11 [Last modified: Monday, October 3, 2011 11:20pm]
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