TAMPA — A Hillsborough County judge has upheld a life sentence for convicted murderer Ronnie O'Neal, saying it's the worst case she has ever seen.
O'Neal, convicted of brutally killing his girlfriend Kenyatta Barron and their daughter Ron'Niveya on March 28, 2018, was formally sentenced on Friday.
Our newsgathering partner, the Tampa Bay Times, reports that O'Neal has received three consecutive life sentences and an additional 60 years.
In June this year, a jury recommended life in prison without the possibility of parole for O'Neal.
The family of Barron and Ron'Niveya were given a chance to speak during the sentencing.
"I sat in court and watched him make a mockery of the court," Barron's mother said. "My daughter should be here right now. I wish you would have gotten the death penalty, but at the end of the day, you still got the death penalty."
O'Neal also got a chance to address the victims' family during his sentencing. While he said no one could love Barron or his children more than he does, he also said he is not sorry for the things he did.
O'Neal defended himself through most of the trial, even questioning his son who said his dad tried burning him to death.
It took the jury about four and a half hours to find O’Neal guilty on all counts. O’Neal argued he killed Barron but only because she killed their daughter with special needs.
The jury agreed with prosecutors that O’Neal brutally murdered them both before stabbing and setting fire to his then-8-year-old son, attempting to kill him, too.
Hillsborough County Judge Mischelle Sisco told O'Neal on Friday that she will be haunted for the rest of her life by the evidence she saw during the trial.
"This is the worst case I've ever seen, as far as the facts go," she said.
During the penalty phase of the trial, O'Neal requested a defense attorney, but by then, it was too late to mount any kind of meaningful defense.
Because the judge allowed O'Neal to represent himself during the trial, there is a host of issues that could be open to an appeal. Those issues could be fought out in the years to come after O'Neal's sentencing on Friday.