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Accused Tampa killer indicted, his parents face contempt hearing

Accused Tampa killer indicted, his parents face contempt hearing

On Thursday, a Hillsborough County judge ordered his parents, Rosita Donaldson and Howell Donaldson Jr., to show cause on why they should not be held in contempt for refusing provide testimony to state prosecutors Tuesday, despite being served with a subpoena ordering them to do so, according to court documents.

Attorney Ralph Fernandez, who represents the suspect's mother, said the Donaldsons have been devastated since the arrest of their son last week.

The state wants answers to questions like if 24-year-old Donaldson suffered from mental health issues or if he was under psychiatric care prior to the murders, but Rosita and Howell Junior are not talking.

"The state's position is there is no privilege derived from either Constitution or statute which allows them to avoid answering questions and that their willful failure to answer questions is a contemptuous acts of the authority of this court", prosecutor Jay Pruner told the court Thursday.

Howell Emmanuel Donaldson III is accused of four murders. A judge ordered Howell Jr. and Rosita Donaldson back to court on January 5 to explain why they are not cooperating with investigators.

Taylor, citing case law from a Miami-area judge, ordered the parents to appear in court January 5, 2018, to show cause as to why they should not be held in civil contempt.

Both the state and the Donaldsons' attorney had a chance to plead their case before the judge came to her decision. The parents of Donaldson will go before a judge Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, after refusing to answer questions about their son.

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The couple, during their meeting with investigators, knew "they were not going to answer questions that would lead to the execution of their son", Fernandez told the judge.

Prior to Thursday's hearing, Fernandez told ABC News that the Donaldsons were "fully advised" on their actions and are "ready to take the effect".

Seminole Heights residents and police had been on edge since October 9, when 22-year-old Benjamin Mitchell was shot to death. He was detained after a co-worker told police that Donaldson handed her a bag with a gun inside and told her to watch it for him. On Nov. 14, 60-year-old Ronald Felton was shot and killed. Donaldson waived a formal hearing on his pretrial detention, so he will be held without bond for the charges, according to a court order released Monday.

Any type of exchange won't take place in open court though. Police do not believe there are any other suspects in the case.

"We're not only trying to build a case against the defendant, we're trying to ask the broader question of why - a question that the victims' families and the community deserves to have answered", Warren, the state attorney, said Wednesday".

The coworker then notified a Tampa Police officer, leading to Donaldson's arrest. "I'd like to remind everyone, please keep your thoughts and prayers for the victims and families at this time". "And we question why".


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