Friday, December 15, 2017


Dan Sullivan

Dan Sullivan

Dan Sullivan covers Hillsborough County courts for the Tampa Bay Times. Since joining the Times in 2010, he has written about unsolved crimes, the opioid epidemic, gun control, and Florida's death row, among other topics. In 2014, he was a Livingston Award finalist for a story that examined a legal loophole that allows Florida to hold mentally challenged criminal defendants without trial. A native of Salt Lake City, Utah, he is a 2006 graduate of the University of Tampa, where he earned a degree in writing.

United States District Judge Elizabeth A. Kovachevich in 2013.[ EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN   |   Times]

Tampa’s Judge K, longtime federal jurist, plans 2018 retirement from regular judicial service

TAMPA — U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich, who has served on the federal bench in Tampa for 35 years, plans to retire from regular judicial service in 2018.In a letter sent Thursday to President Donald Trump, the judge said she plans to...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Former Tampa Police officers Eric Houston, left, and his wife LaJoyce Houston, center, walk into the Sam Gibbons U.S. District Courthouse in October 2015. With them are their attorneys Lyann Goudie, second from left and Wade Whidden, right. [SCOTT KEELER | Times files (2015)]

LaJoyce Houston, former Tampa police sergeant, sentenced to 33 months in tax fraud case

TAMPA — Former Tampa police Sgt. LaJoyce Houston stood before a federal judge Wednesday and said she had remorse, but admitted few wrongs.She denied a prosecutor’s suggestions that she had a hand in a tax fraud scheme or that she knew her debts...
Published: 12/13/17
CHRIS URSO  |  Times
Howell Emanuel Donaldson III, 24, in white, is led by law enforcement personnel into the Orient Road Jail Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017 in Tampa. Donaldson will face four counts of first-degree murder, Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan announced at a news conference at police headquarters.

Prosecutors likely to decide by Jan. 25 on death penalty in Seminole Heights murders

TAMPA — Prosecutors will likely know before the end of January whether they will seek the death penalty for the man accused in the four Seminole Heights murders.A judge set the next court appearance for Howell Emanuel Donaldson III for Jan. 25...
Published: 12/12/17
Howell Donaldson Jr., left, and his wife, Rosita, parents of the suspect in the Seminole Heights murders, appear at a hearing Thursday as prosecutors try to force them to answer investigators' questions about Howell Emanuel Donaldson III.

Parents’ dilemma: Refuse questions in Seminole Heights murder case or risk harming son’s defense

TAMPA — Here’s the dilemma for the parents of Howell Emanuel Donaldson III:Hillsborough County’s top prosecutors want to question them to learn what they may know of their son’s potential involvement in four Seminole Heights murders. But...
Published: 12/07/17
OCTAVO JONES   |   Times  the parents of Howell Donaldson Jr., left, and his wife, Rosita the parents of Seminole Heights murder suspect Howell Donaldson III appear in court for contempt for refusing to answer questions from the state attorney's office on Thursday, December 7, 2017.

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...
Published: 12/07/17
Rosita Donaldson, left, and Howell Donaldson Jr., the parents of the Seminole Heights murders suspect, speak to a Tampa Bay Times reporter at the office of lawyer Ralph Fernandez on Friday, December 1, 2017, in Tampa.

Parents of Seminole Heights murder suspect refuse to talk to investigators; judge to rule

TAMPA — Investigators had questions for the parents of Howell Emanuel Donaldson III, the suspect in four Seminole Heights killings. They wanted to ask Howell Jr. and Rosita Donaldson about their 24-year-old son’s background, developmental...
Published: 12/06/17
At an arraignment in Hillsborough Circuit Court on Wednesday, Steven Lorenzo said he wants to serve as his own attorney during his trial in the sexual torture murders of two Tampa men. [CHRIS URSO | Times]

Steven Lorenzo says double jeopardy trumps Tampa murder case. Is he right?

TAMPA — More than a decade ago, a federal jury convicted Steven Lorenzo of conspiracy and drug crimes. Behind those offenses were allegations that he sexually tortured and murdered two men.Ordered to serve a 200-year prison sentence, the...
Published: 12/05/17
At an arraignment in Hillsborough Circuit Court on Wednesday, Steven Lorenzo said he wants to serve as his own attorney during his trial in the sexual torture murders of two Tampa men. [CHRIS URSO | Times]

Judge finds Steven Lorenzo competent to stand trial in Tampa murders

TAMPA — Steven Lorenzo understands the case against him and is competent to stand trial.That was the conclusion of a doctor’s report assessing the murder defendant’s sanity, which was discussed in a Monday afternoon court...
Published: 12/04/17
Devon Arthurs, 18, told police  he shared neo-Nazi beliefs with his roommates, Jeremy Himmelman and Andrew Oneschuk, until he converted to Islam, according to a police report .
[Tampa Police]

Judge orders mental health exam for defendant in Tampa neo-Nazi murder case

TAMPA — Devon Arthurs, the man at the center of a bizarre double-murder case that carried overtones of neo-Nazism and violent extremism, will undergo a mental health exam, a judge said Monday.Attorneys for Arthurs asked Circuit Judge Laura Ward...
Published: 12/04/17
Rosita Donaldson, the mother of the man facing murder charges in the Seminole Heights deaths, Howell Emanuel Donaldson III, speaks to reporters at the office of Tampa attorney Ralph Fernandez on Friday. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA   |   Times]

Parents of Seminole Heights murder suspect struggle to understand why

TAMPA — The people who knew him best have struggled to understand how police could accuse Howell "Trai" Donaldson III of striking down four strangers with gunfire, terrorizing Seminole Heights for 51 days.His parents said they also have no...
Published: 12/01/17