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Riverview man accused of killing girlfriend, daughter set to represent himself in court starting Monday

If convicted, Ronnie Oneal III could face the death penalty.

TAMPA, Fla. — The trial for the Hillsborough County man accused of killing his girlfriend and daughter is set to begin on Monday.

Ronnie Oneal III, 32, was arrested in March 2018 and accused of killing his girlfriend Kenyatta Barron and their 9-year-old daughter, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.  

He pleaded not guilty in April 2018. In May 2018, the State Attorney's Office said it would seek the death penalty. Five months later, Oneal was found not competent to stand trial. 

In May 2019, 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." The judge ruled the following month that Oneal was competent to stand trial. 

Now two years later, that trial appears to be ready to begin. Oneal faces 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. 

Oneal also faces an attempted murder charge after allegedly nearly killing his son the same night.

Oneal chose not to have a lawyer for his trial and instead, represent himself in court. If convicted, he could face the death penalty, which he told jurors Tuesday he believes in.

“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," Oneal said.

Jury selection began on June 7 for Oneal's trial, which will have 12 jurors and 2-3 alternates.

The judge expects opening statements to begin on June 14.

Oneal does not have a lawyer right now, but a public defender is expected to be on standby in the case he changes his mind.

TIMELINE:

  • March 18, 2018 – The night of the attacks
  • March 2018 – Ronnie Oneal III is arrested
  • April 2018 – Oneal pleads not guilty to the murders of Kenyatta Barron, 33, and their 9-year-old. He also pleads not guilty to the attempted murder of his 8-year-old son and arson charges related to the attacks. 
  • May 2018 - The State Attorney's Office says it will seek the death penalty. 
  • October 2018 - Oneal is found not competent to stand trial.  
  • December 2018 - A court terminated Oneal’s parental rights.  
  • May 10, 2019 - The Department of Children and Families sends a letter to the judge: "the treatment staff are of the opinion that this resident is competent to proceed and no longer meets criteria for continued involuntary commitment." 
  • June 2019 – Judge rules that Oneal is competent to stand trial. 
  • June 7, 2021 – Jury selection begins.
  • June 8, 2021 – 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.
  • June 14, 2021 – Opening statements are scheduled to commence.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said the crime occurred on March 19. It was March 18.

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