A jury found a Riverview man guilty of the 2018 killing of his girlfriend and their 9-year-old daughter.
After a week-long trial filled with detailed, sometimes graphic testimony, closing arguments took place Monday before the case was handed over to the jurors for deliberation.
After a little less than five hours of deliberations, the jury found Ronnie Oneal III guilty of the first-degree premeditated murder of his girlfriend Kenyatta Barron and his 9-year-old daughter. He was also found guilty of the attempted murder of his son, who he stabbed and lit on fire.
“We the jury find as follows, the defendant is guilty of first-degree murder as charged. The defendant actively possessed and discharged a firearm as charged,” a juror read in court.
Oneal was also found guilty of arson and aggravated child abuse.
“The evidence against the defendant is mountainous it is overwhelming and proves beyond every shadow of a doubt the defendant is guilty,” said Ron Gale with the prosecution.
Step by step, the prosecution methodically laid out each piece of evidence, arguing that after shooting and bludgeoning Kenyatta to death, Oneal turned on his children before lighting the family home on fire.
“There is no scenario under which this defendant is not guilty of murder,” Gale said.
While Oneal had no reaction as the verdict came down, he highlighted his disappointment with how the prosecution presented the case during his closing arguments. He said his girlfriend critically injured their children and that’s why she ended up dead.
“I want you to know the actual facts. I did kill Kenyatta Barron, but I want you to tell it like it is if you’re going to tell it. Any father would have done the same thing out of pure instinct and passion,” Oneal said.
Despite the judge having to step in and warn him about his yelling and inappropriate language, she said he represented himself well. She did, however, recommend him to hire counsel for the next phase of the trial
“As we move into penalty phase, I’m really going to strongly encourage you to allow counsel to step in and represent you. I don’t want you to make a decision right now, I want you to give it some serious serious consideration,” Hillsborough Circuit Judge Michelle Sisco said.
Oneal will be back in court Tuesday to tell the judge whether or not he will represent himself in the penalty phase.
Jurors will not be present Tuesday. They will begin the penalty phase at 9 a.m. Wednesday, and the judge expects the trial to formally conclude before the end of the week.
During the trial, there were some high-profile moments inside the courtroom. On Wednesday, Oneal cross-examined his 11-year-old son. On Thursday, he publicly thanked the detective who adopted that son.
Oneal, 32, was first arrested in March 2018.
In May of that year, the State Attorney’s Office said it would seek the death penalty. Five months after that, Oneal was found not competent to stand trial.
That is until May 2019 when the Department of Children and Families sent a letter to the judge saying, “the treatment staff are of the opinion that this resident is competent to proceed and no longer meets criteria for continued involuntary commitment.”
Before the trial even began, Oneal told prospective jurors he believes in the death penalty while addressing them in court.
“When it comes to the death penalty, I just want to let you all know that, me personally, I am for it. If somebody has committed these crimes, they are worthy of death,” he said.
[via 10 Tampa Bay]