Ronnie Oneal was under ‘extreme mental or emotional disturbance’ at time of double murder, psychologist says

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla (WFLA) — A Hillsborough County jury is being asked to decide if convicted killer Ronnie Oneal will be sentenced to life in prison or death.

The same jury on Monday found Oneal guilty of all charges against him in a 2018 double murder. Oneal, who acted as his own attorney during the trial, was convicted of killing his girlfriend Kenyatta Barron and their disabled daughter, and trying to kill his son.

The penalty phase started Wednesday. Oneal, who is facing the death penalty, has opted to allow his court-appointed attorneys to represent him for this phase.

On Thursday, the jury heard from Oneal’s mother and brother, along with a lengthy testimony from psychologist Dr. Scot Machlus, who evaluated Oneal on thirteen separate occasions.

“The capital felony was committed while the defendant was under the influence of extreme mental or emotional disturbance,” said Dr. Scot Machlus.

Assistant State Attorney Scott Harmon told the jury on Wednesday that the murders were particularly brutal.

The defense argued that Oneal was shot just one year before the murders. They also said he was raped as a child and, as a result, suffers from PTSD.

The jury was recessed Thursday evening and will return Friday morning for the penalty phase closing arguments and make their final decision on his fate.

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