news 1 week ago

The Latest: Parents of murder suspect appear in court

The Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on the parents of a Florida man suspected in the killings of four people refusing to answer investigators' questions (all times local):

11:30 a.m.

A Florida judge says the parents of a 24-year-old man suspected in a string of fatal shootings in a Tampa neighborhood must "show cause" on why they shouldn't be held in civil contempt for refusing to answer investigators' questions.

Judge Margaret Taylor on Thursday set a Jan. 5 hearing for Howell Jr. and Rosita Donaldson. They refused on Tuesday to answer questions about their son, Howell Donaldson III, who now faces four counts of first-degree murder.

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."

Taylor said the state attorney's office has authority to subpoena the parents and question them. She added that the Donaldsons may go to the state attorney at any time before the court date if they choose to answer questions.

Their son was arrested Nov. 28.

The shootings, which began in early October, terrorized the Tampa neighborhood.

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7:20 a.m.

The parents of the 24-year-old man suspected in a string of fatal shootings in a Florida neighborhood will go before a judge after they refused to answer investigator's questions about their son.

The Tampa Bay Times reports investigators wanted to question Howell Donaldson Jr. and Rosita Donaldson on Tuesday about Howell Emanuel Donaldson III's background, developmental history, gun possession and state of mind. But they refused.

State Attorney Andrew Warren called the refusal a "rarity." He says most people understand they have a duty to answer questions. His office has asked Hillsborough County Judge Margaret Taylor to consider whether they should be held in contempt. A hearing is set for 10 a.m. Thursday.

The younger Donaldson faces four counts of first-degree murder in the apparently random shooting spree. He was arrested Nov. 28.

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Information from: Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Fla.), http://www.tampabay.com.

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