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Parents of murder suspect appear in court

Parents of murder suspect appear in court

If they continue to refuse to cooperate, Howell, Jr. and Rosita Donaldson could end up in jail on contempt of court charges.

Howell Donaldson has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder.

Donaldson III is facing four counts of murder after a string of crimes terrorized Tampa's Seminole Heights neighborhood for weeks.

- The parents of Howell "Trai" Donaldson, III were ordered Wednesday to appear before a judge after refusing to give prosecutors testimony about their son, who is the accused Seminole Heights killer.

Ralph Fernandez, an attorney for the couple, said they haven't slept much since their son was arrested November 28 and charged with four counts of first-degree murder for the apparently random shootings that began in early October in Tampa's Seminole Heights neighborhood. 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. The loaded weapon linked the 24-year-old to the killings, authorities said. "In their distressed state, theyre asked to testify against their son".

Fernandez said the couple was in no shape to be grilled by prosecutors, even with immunity. "They are considering leaving town".

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"I dont think its going to come to that", he said. At a 10 a.m. hearing, County Judge Margaret Taylor will decide whether their refusal to testify constitutes indirect criminal contempt.

"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.

Those questions relate to Donaldson III's mental health, whether his parents knew he owned a gun and about their son's history, among others.

The families of Benjamin Mitchell, Monica Hoffa, Anthony Naiboa and Ronald Felton earlier met with the state attorney to talk about whether the state should seek the death penalty; Naiboa's father said that's something they want.

Jay Pruner, an assistant state attorney, office said prosecutors need to speak with the parents in order to conduct a "thorough investigation'".


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