Tuesday, July 17, 2018
News Roundup

January contempt hearing set for parents of suspect in Seminole Heights killings

TAMPA — A judge ordered parents of the man accused in the Seminole Heights murders Thursday to appear before her next month and explain why she shouldn’t hold them in civil contempt for refusing to answer investigators’ questions.

Howell Jr. and Rosita Donaldson, the parents of 24-year-old Howell Emanuel Donaldson III, were unhelpful when asked to discuss his developmental history, state of mind, gun possession and other topics, according to the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office.

Other than providing birth dates, names and addresses of family members, and brief biographical information, both refused to answer questions.

Their son was arrested Nov. 28 on four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Benjamin Mitchell, Monica Hoffa, Anthony Naiboa and Ronald Felton. The four were shot in October and November in southeast Seminole Heights, a violent spree that terrorized the neighborhood and attracted national attention.

Circuit Judge Margaret Taylor set a new court date of Jan. 5, when the Donaldsons will have to explain their refusal to answer questions. If they continue to refuse, they could face penalties, including a fine or possible jail time.

Ralph Fernandez, an attorney for the parents, said afterward that he hoped something could be worked out before then.

"It is a carrot being held out to see if we can reach some kind of agreement," he said. He said he was pleased that the judge chose keep the proceedings in the civil realm.

Fernandez explained that the Donaldsons have been devastated since their son’s arrest. They have had trouble sleeping, have thought about leaving town, and received at least one death threat.

The idea of testifying against their son was not something they were in a position to consider, he said, especially with the possibility that he could face the death penalty.

"They knew when they went in that they were not going to answer questions that would lead to the execution of their son," the attorney told Judge Taylor.

The Donaldsons sat quietly in the second row of a cramped courtroom behind a throng of reporters during the half-hour hearing. Afterward, they shuffled into a hallway, whispered to their attorneys, and appeared to weep.

Comments
Thick humidity fuels sweltering conditions, increasing rain chances for Tampa Bay

Thick humidity fuels sweltering conditions, increasing rain chances for Tampa Bay

Scattered showers and thunderstorms are expected to pick up throughout Tampa Bay on Tuesday afternoon, along with continued blistering sunshine and high humidity.An increased chance of rain, around 60 percent, will continue throughout the week. A hig...
Updated: 8 minutes ago
First look (with video): Universal’s new high-tech fountain shows ends the night at the theme park

First look (with video): Universal’s new high-tech fountain shows ends the night at the theme park

Times Staff WriterVisitors to Universal Studios in Orlando on Monday night got to witness the premiere of the new high-tech, dancing-fountain, cinematic show to end the day in the park in what the show’s creator called "a kiss goodnight." It’s full o...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
The Daystarter: Race-baiter claims self-defense; Florida Republicans blast Trump’s performance; catching up with All-Star Blake Snell

The Daystarter: Race-baiter claims self-defense; Florida Republicans blast Trump’s performance; catching up with All-Star Blake Snell

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.• There is a 40 to 50 percent chance of rain today, with storms expected to start along the coast in the morning before moving inland, according to the National Weather Service. High te...
Updated: 20 minutes ago
Hillsborough to train school resource officers during active shooter exercise

Hillsborough to train school resource officers during active shooter exercise

DOVER — With the start of classes nearly three weeks away, Hillsborough County school resource officers will receive extensive active shooter training Tuesday morning to prepare them in the event of another school tragedy.Members of the Hillsborough ...
Updated: 20 minutes ago
Tampa Bay Times’ all-Tampa Bay baseball team

Tampa Bay Times’ all-Tampa Bay baseball team

North Suncoast Player of the Year: J.P. Gates, Sr., Nature CoastGates changes games. Even when he was not pitching, he was still in the middle of the lineup and playing first base. He was pitched to carefully but still had good power numbers. "H...
Updated: 29 minutes ago
Artwork of Holocaust survivor Toby Knobel Fluek gets permanent home in St. Petersburg museum

Artwork of Holocaust survivor Toby Knobel Fluek gets permanent home in St. Petersburg museum

ST. PETERSBURG — She wasn’t ready to get rid of her mom’s most valuable possessions when she buried her in 2011.It wasn’t until last year that she could actually start contemplating it. That’s when she finally searched "Holocaust museums" on Google. ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa Bay business: This is what Prime Day is like as an Amazon seller

Tampa Bay business: This is what Prime Day is like as an Amazon seller

Amazon doesn’t even give its sellers a headsup on which July day the mega online retailer is selecting for its biggest sale of the year, Prime Day. But out of her natural sponges workshop in Tarpon Springs, Theo Prodromitis knew to start getti...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Jimbo Fisher is out-recruiting Willie Taggart and Dan Mullen (so far)

Jimbo Fisher is out-recruiting Willie Taggart and Dan Mullen (so far)

ATLANTA — We don't yet know how well Jimbo Fisher will do in his first season at Texas A&M. What we do know already is that he's recruiting at a very high level in College Station.Which shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who followed hi...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Another hip hotel in St. Pete? Uptown residents like the idea, but fret about parking.

Another hip hotel in St. Pete? Uptown residents like the idea, but fret about parking.

ST. PETERSBURG — In the past few years, Michael Andoniades has turned two faded hotels — the Hollander and the Avalon — into two of St. Petersburg’s trendiest, most popular lodgings. So it is with mixed feelings that residents of the city’s Historic ...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Wesley Chapel luxury car market to add BMW

Wesley Chapel luxury car market to add BMW

WESLEY CHAPEL — The race for luxury car buyers in Wesley Chapel has a new entrant. BMW plans to open a showroom at State Road 56 and Mansfield Boulevard in the Wiregrass Ranch development.Preliminary plans filed with Pasco County by Spring Engineerin...
Published: 07/17/18