State: Plea deal was only way we could recover Lonzie's remains

State Attorney Angela Corey and a team of prosecutors and investigators said the plea agreement for Ruben Ebron was the best decision in the case because it led to recovery of missing 21-month-old Lonzie Barton’s remains.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Ebron pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter, child neglect, lying to police and tampering with evidence. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

"We now accept that this plea was the right thing to do,” Corey said Friday. "The negotiation disposition that Ruben Ebron entered into this morning was the only way — and I emphasize, — only way — that we could bring Lonzie home."

The State Attorney's Office said based on the evidence in the case, this was the most reasonable outcome.

"It's easy to go ahead and speculate about what you might want to think happen and imagine a scenario where you think this should be a lot stronger and a lot harsher," Assistant State Attorney Rich Mantei said.

"The problem is you then have to actually have to go about building a case with evidence to prove it. If that can't happen, then all the emotion in the world I think is better redirected to helping those children that are out there that still need help.”

Corey said Ebron said that Lonzie accidentally drowned in the bathtub while he was engaged in sexual relations with Lonzie’s mother, Lonna Barton.

Ebron led authorities to the remains in January in wooded area in the Bayard area.