Judge warns accused serial killer's parents: Cooperate or explain why not
07 Декабря, 2017, 23:10 | Author: Valerie Burke
Defense attorney Ralph Fernandez told the judge the Donaldsons are "devastated" and have received death threats since their son's arrest last week.
Judge Taylor then gave the Donaldsons until January 5 to cooperate with prosecutors.
The Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office, in court motions, accused the parents of indirect criminal contempt for refusing to answer questions after being served with a subpoena.
LIVE | The parents of Howell Donaldson III, suspected Seminole Heights killer, are facing a judge for refusing to answer questions about their son.
"Admittedly, they knew when they went they were not going to answer questions that would lead to the execution of their son", Fernandez told the judge Thursday morning. But they stopped answering questions during a meeting with investigators.
"The state's position is there is no privilege derived from either Constitution or statute which allows them to avoid answering questions and that their willful failure to answer questions is a contemptuous acts of the authority of this court", prosecutor Jay Pruner told the court Thursday.
Both the state and the Donaldsons' attorney had a chance to plead their case before the judge came to her decision.
If the Donaldsons are forced to answer questions, it could happen as soon as today. "Not only the personal tragedy, but they have extended their condolences repeatedly to the victims that suffered greatly".
The court hearing is scheduled for Friday, January 5 at 10 a.m. He described their situation as "tough" and "complex".
The Donaldsons were subpoenaed by prosecutors to, according to court documents, give information about their son's "developmental history, mode of transportation, gun possession and ownership, and state of mind". "There's no sense of duty for you to give only what someone else seeks to make a better case, shall I say, against their son when that would be manifestly unfair, premature and untimely".
Two days later, 32-year-old Monica Hoffa, was slain.
The coworker then notified a Tampa Police officer, leading to Donaldson's arrest.
The fourth victim, 60-year-old Robert Felton, was fatally shot from behind in the early hours of November 14.
Howell Donaldson III graduated from St. John's University in NY in January 2017 and was a walk-on for the men's basketball team during the 2011-12 season, according to Brian Browne, executive director of university relations. He has not yet entered a plea. The judge will decide if there are grounds for a hearing to show cause - which will likely take place next week, according to the prosecutor.
"It's implicit. that they want something from them that will ideal the case so that, perhaps, their son is executed and it's one of these concepts that is very hard for any parent", Fernandez said of the state.
On Tuesday, after the parents were questioned, their attorney shared with News Channel 8 the reaction of the mother and father when they were asked to provide details about their son.
"We are taking every investigative avenue and using every investigative tool at our disposal to build as a strong a case as possible to hold the defendant accountable for his crimes", Warren said. "And we question why".
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