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Parents of Seminole Heights murder suspect in court for contempt hearing

Parents of Seminole Heights murder suspect in court for contempt hearing”

A judge is expected to meet with Howell Donaldson II and his wife, Rosita, to determine if they are in contempt of court.

- 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.

At the 10 a.m. hearing Thursday, prosecutors are expected to ask the Donaldsons personal and detailed questions about their son's mental health, along with other questions varying from whether they knew if he owned a gun to basics about his vehicle, clothing and developmental history.

Howell Emanuel Donaldson III, faces four counts of first-degree murder in deaths of Benjamin Mitchell, Monica Hoffa, Anthony Naiboa and Ronald Felton. He was taken into custody last week at the McDonald's in Ybor City, where he works, after handing a gun to a co-worker and asking her to watch it. The loaded weapon linked the 24-year-old to the killings, authorities said.

"If you are a parent asked to testify against your child, what would you do?" He told the Judge they can't sleep and they have even thought of leaving town. "They feel hostages in their own home".

But mostly, he said, they are anxious that anything they might say could lead prosecutors to seek the death penalty against their son or help put him on death row.

Tampa attorney and legal expert Anthony Rickman told FOX 13 it's unusual for parents to be called in for questioning, but it's not unheard of.

As far as the Donaldsons getting out of answering questions without effect, Tampa defense attorney Anthony Rickman says since they're protected by immunity from the state, that may not be possible.

"Mr. Donaldsons refusal to testify. despite having received a court- authorized subpoena, constitutes indirect criminal contempt of this Honorable Court", Assistant State Attorney Jay Pruner wrote in a motion filed Wednesday in a motion that names the father. But the serious charges against their son is the reason they plan to stay silent.



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