Parents of accused Tampa killer refuse to cooperate with investigators


"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. Benjamin Mitchell, 22, was killed October 9, and the body of 32-year-old Monica Hoffa was found October 13, half a mile from where Mitchell was killed.

"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.

For that reason, the judge chose to give the Donaldsons time to think about whether or not they'll answer questions. Police do not believe there are any other suspects in the case. "That's the objective of this motion ultimately; that's our intent and our hope they would comply and answer our questions".

But Donaldson Jr. and his wife, Rosita Donaldson have not answered all of their questions.

"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". 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.

The families of Benjamin Mitchell, Monica Hoffa, Anthony Naiboa and Ronald Felton earlier met with the state attorney to talk about whether the state should seek the death penalty; Naiboa's father said that's something they want.

Refusing to testify could put the Donaldsons in jail for several months.

In motions filed Wednesday, the state attorney's office said the parents' refusal to testify despite having received a court-authorized subpoena constitutes indirect criminal contempt.

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Fernandez questioned why prosecutors would take such an "extraordinary step", given the evidence they claim to have against the younger Donaldson.

The newspaper reports that on Tuesday, Andrew Shafii, one of two attorneys who accompanied Rosita Donaldson, told prosecutors neither parent would testify.

The couple have said they are devastated and in disbelief that their son could have done such a thing.

Howell Donaldson III, a Tampa native and graduate of St. John's University in New York City, is being held in a Hillsborough County jail without bond.

Howell Emmanuel Donaldson III is accused of four murders. "Our hearts go out to the families and the loss that they have".

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.

Fernandez explained that the Donaldsons have been devastated since their sons arrest.

She said that they had prayed for the victims' families, and hoped those families would return the effort.

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