HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Ronnie O’Neal was sexually abused as a young boy and never received any treatment for that trauma.
This was the message delivered in court Thursday during the penalty phase of O’Neal’s double murder trial as jurors decide whether to sentence O’Neal to death or life in prison.
What You Need To Know
- Penalty phase ongoing in Ronnie O'Neal double murder trial
- PREVIOUS STORY: Ronnie O'Neal was convicted of first-degree murder
- Jury must unanimously recommend capital punishment or O'Neal will receive life in prison
Closing arguments in this phase of the trial begins Friday morning.
It took a jury about four and a half hours Monday to find O’Neal guilty on all counts on the 2018 murders of his girlfriend Kenyatta Barron and their 9-year-old daughter.
O’Neal argued he killed Barron but only because she killed their daughter with special needs.
He is facing the death penalty.
The defense highlighted the abuse, family mental health issues, as well as O'Neal previously being injured in a shooting.
After hearing testimony in the penalty phase, the 12-person jury must unanimously recommend capital punishment for O'Neal or he will serve life in prison without parole.
O’Neal’s brother Alonso Kelley testified Thursday that he and O’Neal were both abused by family members when they were children. Kelley said they were both impacted by the abuse, especially O’Neal, who was 5-years-old at the time.
"He would always act like it didn't bother him,” Kelley said. “But I could tell that it bothered him."
O’Neal’s mother also told jurors Thursday of the abuse and how nothing was done about it afterwards.
Additional testimony is expected from the defense and prosecution Thursday.