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Man admits shooting phone, not girlfriend

He said he shot his cell phone, then his girlfriend fatally shot herself in the head. Detectives and the woman's family don't buy it.

By CARY DAVIS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 23, 2002

NEW PORT RICHEY -- Ronald Buonaccorso admitted Friday that he shot a cellular phone during a June 2001 argument with his girlfriend. He pleaded guilty to a felony charge of shooting within an occupied building and received two years of probation.

Still in question is what happened after Buonaccorso, 28, shot the phone.

This much is known: Buonaccorso's girlfriend, Jackie Grubbs, died of a gunshot wound to the head.

Buonaccorso told detectives that Grubbs grabbed the .22-caliber revolver from him and turned the weapon on herself.

Pasco sheriff's detectives doubt that account.

"Their belief is this was a homicide," said sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll. "But at this point, there's not enough evidence to make an arrest."

Doll declined to name a suspect. He said the investigation will remain open.

Neither Buonaccorso nor his attorney, Ira Berman of St. Petersburg, could be reached for comment Friday.

Buonaccorso's plea left Jackie Grubbs' stepmother with an empty feeling.

"I'd really like to know the truth," said Sherry Grubbs. "(Buonaccorso) is the only one who knows the truth. "Jackie knows, but she's not here anymore."

Buonaccorso told investigators that he and Grubbs argued June 24, 2001, in their Holiday home after she erased numbers stored on his cell phone.

Witnesses in another room of the Merita Drive home said they heard swearing and name-calling but decided to mind their own business. Then they heard gunshots.

Buonaccorso took responsibility for the first two shots, according to reports. He grew so angry during the argument, he said, that he grabbed his handgun and shot his phone. Grubbs then picked up the gun and shot herself in the head, Buonaccorso told detectives.

Grubbs, 24, was flown to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg, where she died the next day.

Her grandfather, Raymond Grubbs, said the family shares investigators' doubts about Buonaccorso account. And even if Buonaccorso did not fire the fatal shot, he's still responsible, Raymond Grubbs said.

"If there was no gun there, she would still be alive," he said.

With no prior felony convictions, Buonaccorso did not face prison time for the charge of shooting within an occupied dwelling. In sentencing Buonaccorso to probation, Circuit Judge W. Lowell Bray withheld a finding of guilt.

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