Published: Fri, December 08, 2017
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

January contempt hearing set for parents of suspect in Seminole Heights killings

January contempt hearing set for parents of suspect in Seminole Heights killings

They revealed only the names, addresses and dates of birth of family members, before declining subsequent inquiries.

Warren said he met with the victim's families Wednesday for two hours to discuss the prosecution and what comes next. "And when that duty is explained to them by a judge, theyre willing to provide us answers".

Taylor said the state attorney's office has authority to subpoena the parents and question them.

Warrens office is asking a judge to consider whether the parents should be held in contempt of court. A similar motion was filed Wednesday afternoon against the mother, prosecutors said.

The Donaldsons case is expected to be heard at 10 a.m. Thursday.

The family's attorney, Ralph Fernandez, told the judge the parents are devastated, haven't slept and don't want to answer questions from prosecutors who are seeking "to make a decision about the life or death of their son". Their refusal to answer questions was simply meant to avoid further emotional pain. We will not testify against their son. "Im hoping to avoid further grief".

As part of the ongoing investigation, investigators have been following thousands of tips and leads that came in, interviewing family members of the victims and talking to Donaldson III's family.

"If I were in State Attorney Warren's shoes I would seek the death penalty for anyone found guilty of these heinous acts", she said in a statement. "And as our statutory obligation, our ethical obligation dictates us to exhaust every lawful investigative avenue", assistant state attorney Jay Pruner told the judge Thursday morning.

"Each time the response that was elicited was, 'I'm not going to answer that question, '" Fernandez said.


He was asked if the parents might be fined or jailed for their refusal to comply.

Their 24-year-old son, Howell Donaldson III, is charged with four counts of first-degree murder in connection to the recent slayings that terrorized Tampa's Seminole Heights neighborhood.

"I understand it's the parents", Hayslett said.

"If there is a legal basis to seek the death penalty, and it's consistent with the wishes of the victims' families, we intend to seek the death penalty", Warren told reporters in Tampa.

Howell Donaldson III was arrested November 28 after his manager at a McDonald's restaurant in Tampa's Ybor City neighborhood alerted police to a McDonald's food bag containing a handgun.

Rosita Donaldson and Howell Donaldson Jr., spoke after their son was arrested and accused of killing four people in Tampa, Florida. Investigators later determined the gun was the same one used in each of the four shootings, an arrest report stated.

Refusing to testify could put the Donaldsons in jail for several months.

"It's implicit ... that they want something from them that will flawless the case so that, perhaps, their son is executed and it's one of these concepts that is very hard for any parent", Fernandez said of the state.

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