‘I arrested you for her murder’: Former HCSO detective takes stand at Ronnie Oneal trial

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RIVERVIEW, Fla. (WFLA) — It took less than 45 minutes on Friday for accused killer Ronnie Oneal III to present his defense.

Oneal is charged with murdering his girlfriend and their disabled daughter in their Riverview home in 2018. This week, he has insisted on representing 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. 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.

His testimony only seemed to back the state’s case against Oneal.

The jury is expected to begin their deliberations in the case on Monday.

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