Parents of accused Florida serial killer refuse to answer prosecutors' questions

Parents could be held in contempt

TAMPA, Fla. — The parents of the accused Seminole Heights killer are refusing to answer prosecutors' questions despite a court subpoena. That decision could land them in jail.

Howell Donaldson Jr., and his wife Rosita, walked in to meet with the prosecution team on Tuesday.

 

The couple are refusing to comply with a subpoena to answer questions about their son. 

Their attorney Ralph Fernandez said the conversation was not combative.

"They were very polite and general questions about locations, relationships and prior physical and mental history," said Fernandez.

When asked if prosecutors think that the parents know something pertinent to the investigation, Fernandez said, "No. I don't know why they did this. I think that they want to know something, clearly."

We learned the parents spoke with their son for the first time Friday via video conference for about two minutes. Fernandez says the couple became very emotional and had to be helped out of their chairs. 

We then asked Fernandez the question many people are asking: why wouldn't the parents cooperate in an investigation of this magnitude.

"I ask those people: do they have children? Number one you do not know the quality of the evidence but that is a tough road to go down. Whether or not you have information that would be useful to the prosecution is not the issue. It's the basic American concept: Are you going to testify against your child? I am going to let them explain it to the judge tomorrow," said Fernandez.

If the parents refuse to answer prosecutors' questions, it would be at a huge cost. 

"They face confinement, jail. I think tomorrow will be a critical day I think as a matter fact we will have family values on trial tomorrow," said Fernandez.

The hearing is expected to take place on Wednesday and the judge could make a decision immediately. 

Tampa attorney Stephen Crawford, a former federal and state prosector, said this is a rare move only seen in high-profile cases. 

“Who knows their child’s state of mind better than the parents? That’s what the prosecutors and detectives are after," said Crawford. "They want to know what did you know, what was your son acting like and the parents have to decide if they want to reveal it.”

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