Child survives murder attempt, custody now in question

- Month’s after surviving a horrific attack at the hands of his father, 8-year-old Ronnie O’Neal Jr’s future is now in limbo. 

Due to legal issues, no one knows who will get custody of the child.

"I want my nephew, I believe in my heart he belongs with me and his cousins, " said Amber Howard, the child’s aunt.

Investigators say defendant Ronnie O'Neal killed the mother of his children, Kenyatta Barron, his 9 year old daughter, and nearly killed his son Ronnie Jr. He then set the house on fire, but little Ronnie was able to escape.

Court records show he was stabbed multiple times, leaving his intestines exposed as paramedics worked to save his life.

Now two months later Howard says her nephew is slowly recovering  at a medical foster home. 

"His mother loved him and his mother did everything she could," said Howard. 

Howard says growing up her daughter Destini and Ronnie Jr. were in inseparable. In fact, all of Howard's kids have sent their favorite cousin art work and messages of love.

The tragedy has torn two families apart and now Howard says her nephew's future is in limbo. She doesn't know who will end up with custody of little Ronnie, 

"What do you do when your kids are so emotionally disturbed they just want to be kids with their cousin they don't want to talk about what their uncle did, " said Howard. 

Recently, Ronnie's father wrote a letter to the judge demanding that his son not be allowed to talk to law enforcement about the murders, hoping to stop his son from testifying against him, 

"I believe he should have that right to testify because that’s his last chance to be able to defend his mother, " said Howard.

The Hillsborough State Attorney's Office just announced they plan to seek the death penalty in this case.
 

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