Saturday 19th June 2021
Accused man questions son in court
A man accused of murder defends himself and calls his eleven-year-old son to the stand. In cross-examination, the defendant wants to show that the son makes contradicting statements. But he knows very well what was done to him. Oneal sees himself as a victim of a conspiracy.
A highly unusual cross-examination occurred during a murder trial in the US state of Florida: A man accused of killing his girlfriend and daughter was allowed to question his own son in court, who is testifying against him. “Did I hurt you the night that incident happened?” Ronnie Oneal asked his son. “Yes,” he replies. “And how did I hurt you?” Asked the father. “You stabbed me.”
Oneal is said to have shot and beaten his girlfriend three years ago, killed his nine-year-old daughter with an ax, and stabbed his then eight-year-old son and set it on fire. If convicted, the 32-year-old faces the death penalty.
Defendant is allowed to defend himself
In Tampa City Court, Judge allowed Oneal to defend himself after he broke up with his attorneys. The judge was of the opinion that he was mentally capable and sufficiently educated. This week Oneal was allowed to interview his son, who was connected to the video and who had been adopted by a police officer investigating the case after the murder.
The cross-examination began in a casual tone. “How are you? Nice to see you man,” Oneal said to his son. “Nice to see you,” replied the eleven year old. Then it got serious: Oneal tried for around 20 minutes to identify alleged contradictions in the statements of his son. He referred, among other things, to different statements made by the boy to the police and in court.
Oneal also let his son say that he had not seen his mother’s murder firsthand. But the boy described the murder of his sister: “He hit her on the back of the head with an ax. I saw her eyes roll up.”
Defendant presents himself as a victim
Oneal tries to portray himself as a victim of a conspiracy in court. “The whole case is rigged,” he said to the jury in an excited tone two days before his son was cross-examined. “When all is said and done, you will see who the mass murderers are.”
In the US, defendants can defend themselves in court and question witnesses – even if they are victims of their crimes. According to experts, it is highly unusual for a father to question his own son.