NewsLocal NewsInvestigations


Will murder case get dismissed for Phoenix detective’s mistakes?

An evidentiary hearing will explore Det. Jennifer DiPonzio’s repeated mistakes
Detective Jennifer DiPonzio.png
Posted at 1:55 PM, Dec 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-20 20:19:22-05

PHOENIX — A judge is set to hold a multi-day evidentiary hearing to decide whether to dismiss a first-degree murder case involving a former Phoenix police detective at the center of a continuing scandal.

The hearing begins on Thursday, December 21, in State v. Eddie Vaughn before Judge Bruce Cohen.

Additional dates will happen in January.

The hearing will explore Det. Jennifer DiPonzio’s repeated mistakes handling evidence and how Phoenix officials and county prosecutors worked to obscure and minimize information about her misconduct.

Cohen granted the hearing after Vaughn’s defense attorney, David Le Lievre, filed a pair of motions to dismiss alleging outrageous government misconduct.

“The State incessantly alleged that undersigned counsel was on a fishing expedition,” Le Lievre wrote. “They blocked interviews, misled the Defense, misled judicial officers, and withheld additional documentation.”

In court filings, Maricopa County prosecutors responded by calling the move to dismiss the case as factually and legally baseless.

Vaughn is accused of killing a woman in a drive-by shooting that happened in June 2020.

Before going on medical leave and retiring under a confidential disability claim, DiPonzio was initially assigned as the main case agent in the investigation against Vaughn.

DiPonzio’s accused of mishandling evidence in Vaughn’s investigation and dozens of others.

So far, her misconduct has impacted 37 court cases and 61 police investigations.

Le Lievre has progressed the furthest in getting the court to compel Phoenix police and county prosecutors to turn over records, interviews, and information they’ve repeatedly worked to keep confidential about DiPonzio.

In Vaughn’s case, Cohen has forced police and prosecutors to disclose 14,000 pages of records from DiPonzio’s misconduct file after officials claimed there were no such records.

On November 30, the judge also recently overturned a previous court decision that ruled DiPonzio was not available to participate in proceedings in any capacity due to health concerns.

Cohen ruled that defendant’s due process rights outweigh concerns about DiPonzio’s medical privacy.

The new ruling came weeks after an ABC15 investigation revealed that DiPonzio was working multiple jobs after her disability retirement and the court’s previous ruling.

Since the investigative report, ABC15 has obtained new photos posted on social media that cast further doubt on DiPonzio’s claims about being too unwell to testify.

On Facebook, a family member posted a picture of DiPonzio drinking a mimosa flight at a Valley restaurant. The post was dated December 28, 2022, which is the date that DiPonzio’s disability retirement took effect.

In another social media post on September 10, 2023, a friend added multiple pictures of DiPonzio on a trip to Hawaii.

DiPonzio’s attorneys did not respond to a request for comment.

But it’s likely that she will be asked about the photos obtained by ABC15 during the evidentiary hearing.

Le Lievre has subpoenaed DiPonzio to testify as well as several other Phoenix police officials.

Contact ABC15 Chief Investigator Dave Biscobing at