Florida man, who screamed at jurors during double murder trial, opts for legal help during death penalty phase

Southeast

TAMPA, Fla. (NewsNation Now) — Ronnie Oneal III, who acted as his own attorney during the trial over killing his girlfriend and daughter, enlisted legal help for the death penalty phase of his trial.

The 32-year-old was found guilty on all charges for the 2018 murders of his 33-year-old girlfriend Kenyatta Barron and 9-year-old daughter Ron’Niveya Oneal.

He was also convicted of stabbing his son, who was 8 at the time. The son survived and testified against his father last week, describing the night his mother and sister were killed.

Oneal accused his son of making up testimony and prosecutors of fabricating evidence.

“I feel like my life has completely changed,” Kenyatta Barron’s mother said in court Wednesday as the death penalty phase began.

According to NewsNation affiliate WFLA, Oneal’s defense is expected to argue he should not be put to death because he suffers from PTSD and delusions due to being shot a year before the murders and raped as a child.

Before enlisting legal help, Oneal frequently shouted at the jury and would pause for stretches of time while delivering his arguments.

Oneal began his closing argument on Monday telling jurors the state had fabricated a 911 call made by Barron as she was being murdered.

“He showed you a fraudulent recording,” Oneal screamed as he pointed to the assistant state attorney prosecuting the case.

“I did kill Kenyatta Barron,” Oneal later screamed to jurors during closing arguments, saying it was an act of self-defense.

In the prosecution’s closing argument, Assistant State Attorney Ron Gale told jurors the evidence in the case is overwhelming that Oneal, and no one else, committed the murders.

“The evidence against this defendant is mountainous,” Gale said.

Longtime trial attorney Anthony Rickman said Oneal’s actions during the trial can’t be corrected and will likely affect his chance at an appeal.

“His whole demeanor throughout that case really hurt him,” said Rickman.

Rickman said any trained attorney would have quickly objected to the testimony and evidence and autopsy photos shown during the trial.

“You can’t just enter in videos or photos with the intent of inflaming the jury,” Rickman told WFLA.

Oneal represented himself in court as his public defenders sit nearby. He claims he acted in self-defense and dropped his attorneys when they said Florida’s “stand your ground” defense did not apply to his case.

The death penalty phase will continue Thursday.

NewsNation affiliate WFLA contributed to this report

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