HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — The trial for Ronnie Oneal III, the Riverview man accused of killing his girlfriend Kenyatta Barron and their 9-year-old daughter in March 2018, got off to an intense start Monday.
Both Oneal, who is representing himself, and the state gave opening statements to the jury – which will be tasked with deciding the 32-year-old's fate.
Attorneys for the state started the trial off by telling the jury Barron was hunted down by Oneal as she hid in a closet and made a last-ditch effort to save herself by calling 911.
The audio played in court, the state says, showed the fear Barron was in at the time.
"She made that call with fear in her voice. Fear that was almost palpable,” the state's attorney said.
Other arguments presented by the state included the claim that Barron identified Oneal as her killer, that the murders were a "carnage" and that Oneal's daughter was unable to fight or call for help due to being non-verbal.
Oneal objected during the state's opening statement's twice. According to Oneal, the 911 call was not the "original," and he denies his son told deputies "my daddy killed my mommy."
Later, during his opening statements, Oneal claims if the statement was even uttered, that it would have been "my dad shot my mom."
While attorneys for the state were laying out their arguments in the case, someone was ordered out of the courtroom for stating "they're going to burn your f***ing ass."
Before addressing the jury, Oneal stood in silence with his head down and rubbing his hands together. He started off his time in front of the jury by yelling and claiming evidence in his case will show "we are under some of the most vicious, lying, fabricating, fictitious government you ever seen.”
Other claims brought forward by Oneal include that law enforcement tampered with evidence, that he also called 911, and that he was acting in self-defense.
“I am asserting justifiable homicide because I acted in self-defense and moved to protect myself and my children from Kenyatta Barron," he said.
Oneal added that he is "competent as can be" and that law enforcement is trying to make it seem as if he is "some kind of menace to society."
Three objections were made by the state during Oneal's opening statements, one of which was sustained. The judge overruled the objection to Oneal claiming his son may have been coached on what to say.
Oneal claims his son is unreliable and does not remember that night's events accurately or consistently "for many reasons."
The 32-year-old was first arrested in March 2018 and proceeded to plead not guilty to the following charges: two charges of first-degree premeditated murder, a first-degree arson charge, a charge for resisting an officer without violence and two charges of aggravated child abuse.
He also faces an attempted murder charge after allegedly nearly killing his son the same night.
In May 2018, 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."
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