Parents of Tampa shooting suspect Howell Donaldson ordered to talk

Parents of Tampa shooting suspect Howell Donaldson ordered to talk

The couple, who appeared before prosecutors earlier this week but refused to answer most questions about their son, Howell Donaldson III, looked stricken as they sat quietly during a hearing on Thursday.

Warren said the parents would have immunity - that nothing the Donaldson's would say could be used against them.

But Warren said the couple was only being questioned as part of the investigation.

The parents were being interviewed in separate rooms Tuesday when they refused to continue answering questions.

Their next court date is January 5 at 10 a.m. "And when that duty is explained to them by a judge, theyre willing to provide us answers".

In motions filed Wednesday, the state attorney's office said the parents' refusal to testify despite having received a court-authorized subpoena constitutes indirect criminal contempt. "I still believe in an America that respects that great family value".

"I'm not suggesting they have any direct knowledge, but I'm not suggesting they don't", he said.

The younger Donaldson has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder in connection with four fatal shootings in the Seminole Heights neighborhood in October and November. "In their distressed state, theyre asked to testify against their son". 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, who later turned it over to police.

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.

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.

"Im a father. So I recognize and sympathize with the unenviable situation that theyre in", Warren said.

The coworker then notified a Tampa Police officer, leading to Donaldson's arrest.

Fernandez also said the Donaldsons have been devastated and have reached out in prayer to the victims, their families and the Seminole Heights community.

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