The bizarre trial of Ronnie Oneal III, who is representing himself against charges that he murdered his girlfriend Kenyatta Barron and their disabled 9-year-old daughter Ron’Niveya Oneal in 2018, took an emotional turn on Wednesday as Oneal questioned one of the prosecution’s top witnesses: his own 11-year-old son. Oneal’s son allegedly witnessed the murders, surviving the attack despite sustaining potentially life-threatening injuries of his own.
As previously reported by Law&Crime, authorities said that the 33-year-old Kenyatta Barron was beaten and fatally shot with a shotgun, while Ron’Niveya—who was non-verbal and on the autism spectrum—was stabbed to death with a hatchet in their family home. They further alleged that Oneal stabbed his son multiple times before setting him and the house on fire.
But the boy, who was 8 years old at the time of the slayings, lived to testify against his father. First responders this week testified to seeing the child walking out of the flaming house after suffering bad burns, a collapsed lung, and what was described as a gaping wound to his belly. Oneal’s son, who is also named Ronnie, changed his last name after he was adopted by a sheriff’s deputy.
Taking the stand on Wednesday, Oneal’s son recounted the night his mother and sister were killed, telling the court that he heard his mother and father screaming at each other and then watched as his father grabbed a shotgun and his mother ran into his sister’s room and hid in the closet.
The boy said he remembered his father shooting his mother, who then stumbled out of the house with his father giving chase. He then described how his father dragged his sister by the arm into his parents’ room and struck her twice with a hatchet, killing her.
“There was blood everywhere and then he lighted something with a tissue and a match,” the boy said, adding that the defendant had already spread gasoline all over the floor.
Oneal’s son said his father then went after him, pinning him to the ground, trying to light him on fire, and stabbing him multiple times.
Acting as his own lawyer, Oneal greeted his son, saying, “It’s good to see you man.”
“It’s good to see you, too,” the boy replied, appearing in court remotely.
Oneal then attempted to point out that his son’s testimony conflicted with statements given to detectives after his mother and sister were killed, but the child remained steadfast, telling his father that he remembered being stabbed.
“Did I hurt you that night of this incident?” Oneal asked. “Yes,” the boy replied.
“How did I hurt you?” Oneal continued. “You stabbed me,” the boy said.
Before the proceeding concluded, the judge commented on how Oneal conducted himself during Wednesday’s hearing, saying he appeared very competent to continue the trial. Oneal in 2018 had been declared unfit to stand trial but was later cleared after subsequent medical evaluations. On Monday he caused a stir when he presented his opening statement. Oneal mainly asserted that the charges against him were built on lies and phony evidence. He delivered this argument by shouting at the jury.
Oneal will likely begin presenting his legal defense on Friday or early next week. He previously told the court he plans to call nine witnesses to testify.
[image via 10 Tampa Bay/YouTube screengrab]
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