Ebron barred from talking to parents

Prime suspect in the disappearance of Lonzie Barton in court Tuesday

Ruben Ebron enters courtroom for Tuesday's motions hearings.
Ruben Ebron enters courtroom for Tuesday's motions hearings.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Ruben Ebron, the prime suspect in the disappearance of 21-month-old Lonzie Barton, was back in a Duval County courtroom Tuesday afternoon, as his attorneys argued to change the original no contact order recently handed down by a judge.

Ebron's lawyers argued that they should be able to have private conversations with their client in jail and that they should not be forced to be present whenever Ebron's parents wish to contact him.

"If we're talking with our client, and Ebron's parents are making statements to him, we have no control over what he says. There could be client/attorney issues. It's just not a good idea to interpose that mix," Ebron's defense attorney, Al Perkins, said. 

Aho said that if it was such an issue, she would take the parents out of the equation, since they are listed as witnesses in the case being formed by the state attorney, denying all contact between Ebron and his parents.

UNCUT: Ruben Ebron's parents outside the courtroom
READ: State's response to Ebron's attorneys requests

Ebron is facing two child neglect charges and a charge of lying to police in connection to Lonzie's disappearance. He is also charged with possession of a handcuff key, introducing contraband into the jail and conspiracy to escape. All five are felonies.

He remains in jail without bond.

Aho also said that a corrections officer must be posted outside of the meeting room any time Ebron meets with his attorneys, a ruling Ebron's defense team is unhappy about.

They don't believe the room is soundproof and the officers presence doesn't allow for a confidential meeting, violating attorney/client privilege.

A spokesperson for the state attorney's office said that the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is not listening into the conversations and that they are still confidential.

"If an individual is incarcerated and his attorney is here to see him, how could I not go up," Robert Nelson, with the Public Defenders Office, said. 

Police have said Ebron was the last person to see Lonzie alive before reporting the toddler missing July 24. Police say they believe Ebron murdered the toddler.

The defense lawyers have also filed a motion for a gag order that would bar attorneys and other parties involved in the case from being able to speak to the media or the public.

Ebron's lawyers also filed a change of venue motion, asking that the trial to be moved out of Jacksonville because they believe it will be impossible to find an impartial jury because of all of the pretrial media coverage.

Both the gag order and change of venue motions will be heard at a future hearing.

"They want to restrict the state and the police from being able to talk about the facts in this case, and it's so unusual because we've seen the police and the state actually give a lot of of information to the public about this case. Typically, they don't do that," said Rhonda Peoples-Waters, an attorney not affiliated with the case.

Ebron could face at least 50 years in prison if convicted of all charges against him. The trial will begin as soon as a jury is chosen. Jury selection is scheduled for Dec. 7.

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