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New documents point finger at Ebron in Lonzie case

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla.

New documents, obtained by News4Jax, include quotes from Lonzie Barton's mother that seem to incriminate her ex-boyfriend, Ruben Ebron, in the toddler's disappearance.

These quotes come after Ebron, the prime suspect in the disappearance of Lonzie Barton, pleaded not guilty Monday to a new charge of tampering with evidence.

Ebron and Lonzie's mother, Lonna Barton, are being tried together on charges of child neglect and lying to police in connection with the toddler's disappearance.

A judge denied a motion from Barton's attorneys Monday to separate the trials but granted their motion to continue the trial until a later date.

The trial date for the pair had been slated for Dec. 7 but was pushed back to Jan. 11. Their pretrial date will now be Dec. 7 with final pretrial hearings coming Jan. 7.

Barton's son, Lonzie, was reported missing from a Southside apartment complex July 24 and he is now presumed dead. Neither Barton (pictured) nor Ebron has been charged with killing the boy.

Previously released discovery materials indicated that a witness told police that Lonzie had bruising on his head and yellow fluid coming from his ears. The state said photos of those injuries have been recovered from Ebron's phone.

The photos were dated July 22, two days before the boy was reported missing.

In documents released by the State Attorney's Office, Barton stated that Ebron told her, "It was an accident, he freaked out or panicked, Lonzie was gone." She went on to say that, "He was tired of watching her kids and all they do is cry." She also said that Ebron told her he went upstairs to get some cocaine to sell and he was sorry.

According to the same document another witness, who had personal ties with Ebron, said that he, "Thinks he can do whatever he wants to do and get away with it. He can snap.  

Ebron is now charged with tampering with evidence after prosecutors said he deleted the photos from his phone.

"Discovered on the telephone were a series of photographs taken on July 22, deleted by Mr. Ebron thereafter, that depicted injuries to the child, Lonzie Barton," prosecutor Rich Mantei said. "It is those photographs and the conclusions of data obtained thereafter that prompted not just the discussion with the expert, but also the filing of the amended charges."

Ebron is also facing several charges related to a planned attempt to escape from jail.

The state filed a motion Monday to have Ebron classified as a habitual offender, which could affect the potential length of his sentence if he's convicted.

Recovering deleted cellphone photos

Computer expert Christopher Hamer said deleting pictures on a phone can be extremely difficult to do. Even when a user thinks a photo is deleted, multiple copies are stored in the phone, making the photo easy to find.

"It's not by design. It's not intentional,” Hamer said. “They did not try to make it difficult to cover your tracks or remove anything that's offensive. It was the easiest way to manage the storage on the devices, and a side effect of that was it can be recovered."

Hamer said when a user deletes a photo, the phone doesn't necessarily delete the file but marks it as unused. The photo remains in the phone's memory and can take a long time to be permanently deleted.

He said oftentimes photos are stored to backup areas like iCloud.

Hamer said when it comes to an important investigation, recovering data on a phone can be critical.

“It really is time-consuming, and it's boring to watch, because essentially what you do is you tether the device to either a forensic workstation or we have some proprietorial hardware that we are not at liberty to show,” Hamer said.

Hamer said the only way a phone will get rid of the pictures permanently is when the user adds enough new content that it eventually pushes out the old.

That might be why the State Attorney's Office was able to pull what it said are deleted pictures of Lonzie from Ebron's phone.