Accused murderer's parents face contempt charges

Ceria Alfonso
Diciembre 7, 2017

The parents of the 24-year-old man suspected in a string of fatal shootings that terrorized a Florida neighborhood will go before a judge Thursday after refusing to answer questions about their son.

Assistant State Attorney Jay Pruner in arguing before the judge Thursday, Dec. 7, said parents Howell Jr. and Rosita Donaldson responded to the state's subpoena for information but refused not to answer questions.

Howell Jr. and Rosita Donaldsons attorney, Ralph Fernandez, said their refusal to answer questions is meant to to avoid further emotional pain.

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.

He went on to defend the Donaldsons' choice to not speak to authorities, saying they felt uncomfortable about answering questions that could indirectly lead to the possible execution of their son.

The couple is scheduled to appear before Hillsborough County Judge Margaret Taylor during a 10 a.m. hearing to determine whether they should be held in contempt of court.

State Attorney Andrew Warren called the refusal a "rarity".

"There is no privilege, derived from either the constitutional or statute, that allows them to avoid answering questions". "The Donaldsons have been devastated, not just for the personal tragedy but for everything that's happened".

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

The younger Donaldson faces four counts of first-degree murder in the apparently random shooting spree in Tampa's Seminole Heights neighborhood that began in early October.

He was arrested November 28 at the Ybor City McDonald's where he worked.

Rosita Donaldson said she and her husband have a 28-year-old daughter and a 13-year-old son.

"They are willing to go to jail not to testify against their son", he said. Howell Donaldson Jr. could face contempt charges.

The Donaldsons held a news conference last Friday, stating their "devastation" at the news of their son's arrest and how they prayed for the families of the victims.

"No", she said. "With all due respect, I'm not answering any more questions". "And then when they arrested my son, devastation, because I love my son and it was disbelief that this was happening to our family".

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