Life in prison: Jury opts against death penalty for convicted double murderer Ronnie Oneal

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The same jury that found Ronnie Oneal guilty earlier this week in the 2018 murders of his girlfriend and daughter, as well as the attempted murder of his son, recommended Friday that the convicted killer serve life in prison without parole.

The 12-person jury spent about three hours deliberating Friday about whether to recommend the death penalty. The deliberations came after the jury heard from family members of the victims, Oneal’s family members, a psychologist, state prosecutors and defense attorneys the past few days. Oneal had acted as his own attorney during his trial, but opted to allow his court-appointed attorneys to represent him for the penalty phase, which started Wednesday.

Oneal was found guilty on all charges against him Monday. The jury delivered that verdict swiftly after less than five hours of deliberation.

He was convicted on two counts of first-degree murder for the 2018 deaths of his girlfriend, 33-year-old Kenyatta Barron, and their disabled 9-year-old daughter Ron’Niveya Oneal. He was convicted of attempted first-degree murder as well for slashing and stabbing his 8-year-old son, who survived the attack and testified against his father last week.

Oneal was also found guilty on two counts of aggravated child abuse and one count of resisting a law enforcement officer without violence, as well as one count of arson after prosecutors say he tried to set their Riverview home on fire along with his daughter’s body and his injured son.

“These murders are among the most cruel and vicious our community has ever seen,” State Attorney Andrew Warren said in a statement after Monday’s conviction. “Sitting in the courtroom with the victims’ family, hearing a mother’s screams, seeing the horrific pictures of her daughter—it’s hard to fathom how someone can do something so barbaric.”

The conviction on Monday came shortly after Oneal delivered a closing argument where he screamed at jurors, accused prosecutors of fabricating evidence and admitted to killing his girlfriend. That followed a week of shocking and emotional testimony.

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