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

08 December 2017

"And when that duty is explained to them by a judge, theyre willing to provide us answers". The couple appeared at the state attorney's office Tuesday but refused to answer any questions related to the investigation of their son's alleged involvement in the killings, according to court documents.

His parents have refused to answer the prosecutor's questions regarding their son.

Taylor, citing case law from a Miami-area judge, ordered the parents to appear in court January 5, 2018, to show cause as to why they should not be held in civil contempt.

Howell Donaldson III, the suspect in four connected Seminole Heights slayings, was indicted on four counts of first-degree murder by a grand jury, state attorney Andrew Warren announced Thursday afternoon.

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Attorney Ralph Fernandez, who represents the suspect's mother, said the Donaldsons have been devastated since the arrest of their son last week. Florida state law does not allow for parent-child privilege. "And as our statutory obligation, our ethical obligation dictates us to exhaust every lawful investigative avenue", assistant state attorney Jay Pruner told the judge Thursday morning.

But Donaldson Jr. and his wife, Rosita Donaldson have not answered all of their questions. He said they've had trouble sleeping, they've thought of leaving the state, and they've even received death threats since their son's arrest. "That's why this is a hard cause because of the fact that from the inception that's why the Donaldson's have been devastated".

Prior to Thursday's hearing, Fernandez told ABC News that the Donaldsons were "fully advised" on their actions and are "ready to take the outcome".

"I want each of you who have children to tell me. what would you do if police came to tell you that you had to testify against your child?" An employee of a McDonalds in Ybor City, where Donaldson worked, called police after he handed her a food bag that held a gun, according to police. And on October 19, Anthony Naiboa, 20, was killed after taking the wrong bus home from his new job.

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Ronald Felton, 60, was shot at approximately 4:51 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 14.

Donaldson has been jailed without bail since his arrest. He has not yet entered a plea. Howell Donaldson Jr. could face contempt charges.

"I think its important to safeguard these truly significant family values in this time of tremendous family stress", he said.

"We're not only trying to build a case against the defendant, we're trying to ask the broader question of why - a question that the victims' families and the community deserves to have answered", Warren, the state attorney, said Wednesday.

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Speaking at a news conference alongside attorneys last week, Donaldson's parents said they had not seen their son since his arrest but wanted to offer him their love and support. "And we question why".

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