The parents of Howell “Trai” Donaldson, III were held in contempt of court today and sentenced to five and one half months of house arrest for refusing to talk to prosecutors in regards to their son who police say committed four murders in Seminole Heights.
For more than two months Howell Donaldson Jr. and Rosita Donaldson denied communication attempts from prosecutors trying to build a case against their son.
The couple missed the original 9 a.m. deadline Friday and showed up at 9:50 a.m. for the 10 a.m. extension of their court appearance. Circuit Judge Mark Wolfe ruled that the parents’ house arrest would have exemptions for religious, medical, and employment activities.
Their 24-year-old son, Donaldson III, is charged with four counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Benjamin Mitchell, 22; Monica Hoffa, 32; Ronald Felton, 60; and Anthony Naiboa, 20.
The killing spree sparked terror throughout the Seminole Heights neighborhood over a seven week span until Donaldson III’s arrest on November 28.
On January 24, State Attorney Andrew Warren announced that the state will seek the death penalty in the case.
The following is our article from January 23, 2018:
Florida State Attorney Andrew Warren announced on Tuesday that his office will seek the death penalty against Howell Donaldson III in the Seminole Heights murders case.
Warren said that the decision he and his team made was most “serious and sobering” and came only after months of work and time for quiet reflection.
The suspect, Donaldson III, 24, faces four counts of first-degree murder.
Warren pointed out that it could take years for the case to go to trial. He included that his office will be ready within the 175 day time-frame required by law.
The Ybor City McDonald’s worker was captured on November 28 at the fast-food restaurant after he gave a coworker a bag with a gun in it and said he had to leave town. The coworker contacted a police officer and Donaldson III was arrested upon returning to his workplace.
Donaldson III admitted to owning the same type of gun loaded with the same kind of bullets that were used in all four murders.
Detectives discovered blood stains on some clothes in the suspect’s car. They also determined that cell phone location records put him at or near the scene of at least three of the four Seminole Heights’ murders.