Next phase of death penalty in Florida double murder trial

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — A jury will determine whether a Florida man should receive the death penalty or life in prison after being convicted of killing his girlfriend and her disabled daughter.

The penalty phase of the trial of Ronnie Oneal III, 32, will begin Wednesday. Oneal represented himself during the guilt portion of the trial, but media outlets reported Tuesday that he agreed to have public defenders handle the death penalty portion.

The Tampa jury found Oneal guilty Monday of two counts of first-degree murder in the 2018 slayings of his girlfriend, Kenyatta Barron, and her 9-year-old daughter, who had cerebral palsy and could not speak.

Barron was wounded with a shotgun blast and then beaten to death, trial evidence showed. The young woman was murdered with an axe.

Oneal was also found guilty of attempted murder for stabbing his then-8-year-old son and arson for setting fire to his home. The boy survived and testified against his father.

Oneal claimed that investigators fabricated and distorted evidence, and also maintained that he acted in self-defense.

After hearing testimony in the penalty phase, the 12-person jury must unanimously recommend the death penalty for Oneal or he will serve life in prison without parole.