Ruben Ebron could face more charges from jail phone calls
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – He remains in the Duval County Jail Tuesday as the prime suspect in the disappearance for 21-month-old Lonzie Barton, but William Ruben Ebron Jr. could be facing even more legal trouble for calls he made while locked up.
In those calls, made in defiance of a judge's order, the suspect in the disappearance of Lonzie Barton begged the mother of his three children to come see him. But in a voicemail Ebron left for her before his arrest, he told her: "I'm done with you. I don't care any more. ... If you wind up in a ditch, I swear to God, it's not from me."
Ebron was arrested July 24, hours after he reported the 21-month-old boy missing, on charges of child neglect and giving false information to police. Ebron was watching the toddler while the boy's mother was at work.
Weeks later, Lonzie's mother, Lonna Barton, was arrested on similar charges. Both have pleaded not guilty.
While the boy's body has not been found, Ebron is considered by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office to be the prime suspect in the toddler's presumed death.
Just over 30 minutes of profanity-laced audio recordings were obtained from the State Attorney's Office late Tuesday morning.
News4Jax is not naming the girlfriend, who was Ebron's girlfriend for 12 years, because she has since accused him of sexual assault. In an interview last month, the woman told News4Jax that the couple had a love-hate relationship.
More than once during more than 30 minutes of recorded telephone conversation, the woman asked Ebron to tell police the truth.
"I just wish if you … if you're covering or if you knew something then you need to f------ say it because (of) our kids," she told Ebron. "No matter if you get time -- you're going to get time -- it shows the type of person that you are and it will show your kids that, 'My dad really does care for me.'"
Ebron's $100,000 bond was revoked partly because he made contact with his ex-girlfriend, who he had been told not to have contact with.
"I'm not supposed to be coming up to see you," she told Ebron in one of the calls. "My lawyer advised me not to come up there. So did the detective."
"They let Lonna come up here," Ebron replied.
Ebron told her that he deserved to see their children because he was a loving father.
"I don't know what you've gotten yourself into. Our kids are suffering because of this s---, Ruben," she told Ebron. "It's like you never 'fess up to anything in your life."
The woman told Ebron he changed after he began dating Lonna Barton.
"You finally got a job, you started getting your life together, and then what? I don't know the person you became, Ruben, because this wasn't you. Yeah, we had our ups and downs, but I don't know who you are any more. ... and that's what hurts."
News4Jax has requested a full copy of all the evidence provided to the defense last week. The court filing lists that the "supplemental discovery exhibit" includes a quote attributed to Ebron saying he "could see why people kill their kids and run into a river with their car."
Ebron was caring for Lonzie and his 5-year-old sister on the night of July 23 while Lonna Barton was at work. Ebron called 911 early the next morning to say someone stole his car with Lonzie inside. Police said they obtained surveillance photos showing Ebron ditching the car a few streets away and believe that his whole story is a lie.
According to the State Attorney's Office, the list of discovery evidence includes recordings of the 911 calls, statements by the defendants to detectives, crime scene photos, audio of phone calls made from both the Duval and Baker county jails, the results of investigations by the Florida Department of Children and Families and voice mail messages from Ebron to his ex-girlfriend before Lonzie's disappearance.
The State Attorney's Office said Ebron said injunctions "never stopped me" in the past because "all that s--- is a piece of paper."
Lonna Barton is out of jail on bond. Police added more charges against Ebron, including attempted escape, and he is being held without bond and now could be facing even bigger problems in court.
"Every time he (makes these calls), that is actually a first-degree misdemeanor, so theoretically he could be punished by the calls he's made so far by 30 years in jail, year after year after year in a ridiculous sort of concept," attorney Randy Reep, from the Law Offices of Randy Reep, said.
Reep, who is not affiliated with Ebron's case, said the calls could lead to more than just time in prison for Ebron.
"What he's demonstrated is an inability to live in accordance with the laws that are prescribed to him, specifically, not to contact (his ex). So, the state would argue, if he were out on bond, he would violate any conditions because there is already a condition in place that he's attempting to get around," Reep said. "I would anticipate that you'll see much more jail calls and much more interesting things come out because as defendants get more and more isolated, they cling to the people that will talk to them on the outside and it's very interesting, the dynamic of when people start to say things."
Lonzie's body has not been recovered. There's a reward of $13,200 for information that leads to him. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS.
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