Florida man interrogates his own son in court after killing the rest of his family

From the Tampa Bay Times:

Hillsborough sheriff's deputies arrested [Ronnie] Oneal [III] the night of March 18, 2018, after a series of 911 calls brought them to a home on Pike Lake Drive in Riverview. In a neighbor's yard, they found Kenyatta Barron, who had been beaten and shot to death. Inside the Oneal home, they later found 9-year-old Ron'Niveya Oneal, who had been fatally stabbed.

The house had been set on fire. As smoke billowed, Ronnie Oneal III strolled outside. He endured Taser shocks from deputies as he was subdued and arrested.

Soon afterward, his then-8-year-old son emerged from the home. The boy had been severely burned, had a collapsed lung and a gaping wound in his belly.

"My dad shot my mom," he told deputies, according to case records.

After three years of legal back-and-forth, including some questions about Oneal's mental health and brief periods represented by high-profile public lawyers, Oneal ultimately decided to represent himself in court — or, as he told the judge, he was "ready to die like B.I.G. I was murdered a couple times already before. So I'm cool with being murdered again and coming back like B.I.G." He is claiming self defense under Florida's Stand-Your-Ground-Law

Witnesses were called in the trial on Wednesday, June 16, 2021 — namely, his son, Ronnie Oneal IV, the sole survivor of that 2018 massacre. As the Washington Post reported from the courthouse:

After the 11-year-old's harrowing testimony to prosecutors, Oneal himself got up to directly question him about it.

"Did I hurt you the night of this incident?" Oneal asked the boy, Ronnie Oneal IV.

"Yes," the child replied. "You stabbed me."

Oneal's defense rested on the fact that his son did not see him shoot the mother, but only heard the shotgun go off. Oneal claimed that he killed the mother in self-defense after she killed their daughter, and attempted to point out inconsistencies between his son's court testimony and what he told the police in the immediate aftermath of the massacre.

Oneal was, perhaps unsurprisingly, found guilty on two counts of first-degree murder, although the judge did concede that, "In another lifetime you would have been an excellent lawyer."

In an interview about the unusual legal proceedings, criminal defense lawyer Kevin Hayslett told 10 Tampa Bay:

How many times does a father cross-examine his own son and question his truth and veracity? If you were to take a million cases in the jurisprudence system of the United States, it would be less than 0000001 percent. And the chances it would happen in a first-degree double homicide case? Just about never.

'I love it,' says man facing possible death penalty in Riverview slayings [Dan Sullivan / Tampa Bay Times]

A boy is the sole survivor of a family massacre. His dad, the suspect, was allowed to question him in court. [Julian Mark / The Washington Post]