RIVERVIEW, Fla. — The trial of a Riverview man accused of killing his girlfriend and daughter has started, with the defendant giving a loud opening statement in which he hinted at police tampering.
Ronnie O'Neal is accused of killing Kenyatta Baron, their 9-year-old daughter, and attempting to kill their 8-year-old son, who survived the March 18, 2018, attack that happened in the family’s Riverview home.
What You Need To Know
- Ronnie O'Neal is accused of killing his girlfriend and their 9-year-old daughter in 2018
- His now 11-year-old son, who survived the attack, is expected to testify
- O'Neal is representing himself after having several public defenders
- The State Attorney's Office plans to seek the dealth penalty
- Previous story: Double-murder trial of Riverview man set to start Monday
In a 911 call, O'Neal claimed Barron tried to kill him and that "white demons" were inside her. The 32-year-old pleaded not guilty last year.
For the past three years, O'Neal has had several public defenders but will now represent himself, despite a warning from the judge about the risks of going at it alone.
In his opening statement Monday, he paced and raised his voice while saying that evidence in the case was tampered with by police.
"The evidence is going to show my son did not see me murder his mom," O'Neal said. "The evidence is going to show I did not shoot his mom. The evidence is going to show my son said many things that are not true."
O'Neal was declared incompetent to proceed in court back in 2018. He spent a few months in a state hospital before going back to jail. He was later deemed competent to stand trial.
His son, now 11, and is expected to testify in the case. The boy is expected to be a key witness in the case after police said he was in the home when his father attacked him, his mother and sister, and then set the home on fire.
The boy managed to escape with stab wounds and burns.
The State Attorney’s Office said it would seek the death penalty in this case.
The trial is taking place at the Hillsborough County Courthouse.