JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The mother of Lonzie Barton wrote several letters to her boyfriend, who reported the toddler missing, about her alleged pregnancy while the two were in jail, according to discovery documents from the State Attorney’s Office obtained by News4Jax Wednesday.
But in jailhouse conversations secretly recorded by her cellmate, Barton said she faked the pregnancy as a legal strategy.
Her son, Lonzie, was reported missing last July by Ruben Ebron, who told police that his car had been stolen with the 21-month-old inside.
Police found the toddler’s remains in January after Ebron led them to a wooded area on Jacksonville’s Southside where he had hidden him.
Ebron later admitted that Lonzie drowned in a bathtub while he was having sex with Barton.
READ: Lonna Barton's letters from jail
Warning: May contain offensive language)
Cellmate secretly recorded conversations with Barton
Barton had conversations with her cellmate, not knowing the woman was wearing a wire, while her missing son’s body had yet to be found.
In the conversations, Barton talks about a faked pregnancy.
“That’s what I told Josh, my lawyer, you know I’m tired of faking it. You know? I’m tired of having to wear big a** sweaters to court, to look, trying to look pregnant, you know. I am just tired of f****** with them all the way around,” Barton says.
From Barton’s conversation, it appears the faked pregnancy was her legal team’s idea. Her cellmate asks if it was.
“They gave you that idea, huh? They gave you that idea?” the cellmate asks.
Lonna replies, “Well, they said, ‘What do you think will make him -- we don’t need him to turn around and lie on you -- what will put him in your corner more than anything?’ I said, ‘Probably saying that I was pregnant or something like that.’ And they said, ‘Well you need to do that, because he’s getting real nasty.’”
But Rhonda Peoples-Waters, an attorney unaffiliated with the case, told News4Jax that it seems as if it was her idea.
"As attorney's we have the obligation to keep quiet and keep confidential most of our conversations with our clients," Peoples-Waters said. "There's a line that's drawn if, you know, as an attorney we know our client is putting forth a lie, and if that's the case, then we certainly have an obligation to take some steps to reveal that to the court."
The recording also captures Barton talking with her cellmate about her charges.
“Remember, he admitted, it knowing that he was drunk and doing drugs. Then how did they get you?” the cellmate asks.
“Because there were drugs in my house and I left my -- there was coke in my house, and I left my kid in the house with coke,” Barton says.
In the recording, the cellmate replies, “I thought they got you through text messages, though. I don’t know how they got you for the child neglect.”
“Because I left my kids with a known drug dealer,” Lonna says in the recorded conversation.
Barton sent letters to Ebron while toddler was missing
The pregnancy strategy seems to be backed up in letters Barton wrote behind bars.
In letters to Ebron, Barton talks a lot about their unborn child, even saying that she didn’t want to have it in jail.
In one to Ebron, dated last October, Barton seems upset over something he may have told police, saying, “If you want us to have your last name then make us want it! I don’t want to have our baby in prison.”
In the letter, she goes on to say, “We need to stick together, Ruben. I’m doing everything you said. You hold up your end. Stop playing with me and the life of our child.”
In another letter sent to someone, Barton talks about seeing Ebron in court, saying, “He says he wants the baby to have his last name.”
She says, “I hope my charges are dropped here.”
Based on the discovery documents, Ebron apparently never wrote Barton back, but Barton did receive a letter from her older son. The boy tells his mother, “I really love and miss you.” He goes on saying, “Hope to see you very soon. You are in all of my prayers.”
He also sent her a stick-figure drawing of the two of them.
At Barton’s sentencing hearing in March, her lawyer said that she had her tubes tied after having Lonzie.
Barton's defense attorney, Gregory Hill of the Office of Criminal Conflict, told News4Jax he could not comment on the jailhouse audio or letters due to attorney-client privilege.
Barton is currently in prison, serving a 12-year sentence for charges of child neglect and lying to police.
Ebron is serving a 20-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to aggravated manslaughter and other charges in Lonzie's death.