HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Closing arguments are expected in the murder trial against Ronnie Oneal on Monday.
Oneal is accused of killing his girlfriend, their daughter and then stabbing his son in their Riverview home in 2018. Oneal has represented himself instead of using experienced trial lawyers appointed to him by the court.
The state called retired Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Detective Tom Dirks to the stand Friday. Dirks now works for the sheriff’s office as a civilian, but in 2018, he was the lead detective that handled the murder in Riverview.
He told the jury about the first time he met Oneal at the crime scene.
“I noticed the clothing he was wearing appeared to be stained with blood, and I also noticed a strong smell of gasoline,” Dirks said.
This week, state attorney’s have presented evidence that Oneal shot his girlfriend and then beat her to death with his shotgun.
Oneal’s own son told the jury during testimony this week that he then watched his father take an ax and kill his sister before his father then took a knife and stabbed him multiple times. Oneal’s son told the jury how his father spread gasoline through the house and lit it on fire.
Oneal claims it was self-defense, but when he tried to get Dirks to say it might have been self-defense during his cross-examination, the veteran law enforcement officer wouldn’t budge.
“Can you draw any conclusions that I committed any murder in this case?” Oneal asked.
Dirks replied, “Yes, that’s why I arrested you.”
Oneal pressed ahead, asking, “Can you draw any conclusions that I committed any murder in this case?”
Dirks looked directly at Oneal and replied, “I’m not going to say that, no. I arrested you for her murder.”
The state rested its case before noon, giving Oneal a chance to call his own witnesses to present his defense. He called a former girlfriend, who is also the mother of another child with Oneal.
She told the jury how she had argued all day with Kenyatta Barron, but never told the jury anyone else might have been involved in the murder.
Oneal then called a next door neighbor to the witness stand. The court asked the media not to identify the witness because of his age.
The neighbor told Oneal he heard a lot that night.
“I heard a loud pop, and then I heard her start screaming,” said the neighbor.
The neighbor then told the jury he saw Oneal chase Barron to the front of another neighbors home, carrying a shotgun.
“He stood over her and did this like striking thing like three times, and he shot her,” said the neighbor.
The trial began last Monday with Oneal’s intense opening statement.
“By the time it’s all said and done, you will see who is the mass murderers,” he screamed at the stunned panel.
Oneal has previously said he acted in self-defense. On Monday, he told jurors the case against him is made up.
“This whole entire case has been tampered with and fabricated,” Oneal said. “My son did not witness me viciously beat his mom to death.”
The jury is expected to begin their deliberations in the case on Monday.