Hillsborough man facing death penalty in murder of woman, child chooses to act as his own lawyer at trial

Hillsborough County

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Ronnie O’Neal III is facing two counts of first degree murder and one count of attempted murder for crimes that happened in Riverview in March of 2018.

O’Neal is facing the death penalty, but this week he is representing himself in court as his public defenders sit nearby.

O’Neal is accused of killing his girlfriend and her 9-year-old daughter, and stabbing his 11-year-old son.

On the morning of March 20, a 911 dispatcher took a call from a frantic woman begging for help.

In the background you could hear a man scream ‘Allah Akbar!’ or God is Great in Arabic. It’s believed O’Neal is the man screaming.

“I’ve just been attacked by some white demon. Her name is Keke, and she tried to kill me and I just killed her,” O’Neal told dispatchers said in a separate call to 011.

In court Judge Michelle Sisco warned O’Neal several times about the danger of representing himself.

“As you know you have the right to represent yourself you also have the right to have counsel represent you. Again I’m going to tell you that there are many potential disadvantages and pitfalls to representing yourself, that specifically you will be held to the same standard that the lawyers would be,” said Sisco.

O’Neal demanded that he be allowed to act as his own attorney after his public defenders refused to use a “stand your ground defense” in his trial.

O’Neal’s own son was stabbed and burned at the same time his mother and sister were murdered. His son is expected to testify at trial that he watched his father shoot his mother and kill his sister.

O’Neal claims his girlfriend killed their daughter and then tried to kill him. The trial is expected to last up to three weeks.

The state is seeking the death penalty in this case.

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