Death penalty phase next in Florida double slaying trial

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Jurors will determine if a Florida man should get the death penalty or life in prison after he was convicted of killing his girlfriend and disabled daughter.

The penalty phase of the trial of 32-year-old Ronnie Oneal III is set to begin Wednesday. Oneal represented himself during the guilt portion of the trial, but news outlets reported Tuesday that he has agreed to have public defenders handle the death penalty portion.

The jury in Tampa found Oneal guilty Monday of two counts of first-degree murder for the 2018 killings of his girlfriend, Kenyatta Barron, and their 9-year-old daughter who had cerebral palsy and was unable to speak.

Barron was wounded with a shotgun blast and then beaten to death, trial evidence showed. The young girl was killed with a hatchet.

Oneal was also convicted of attempted murder for stabbing his son, then 8, and of arson for setting fire to their house. The boy survived and testified against his father.

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

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

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