TAMPA, Fla. — The parents of the accused Seminole Heights, Florida killer are officially under house arrest after being held in contempt of court for refusing to answer prosecutor's questions.
Howell Donaldson Jr. and Rosita Donaldson were booked into the Orient County Jail on Wednesday morning before being released to fulfill their house arrest.
The couple is being placed on GPS monitoring, during their house arrest. They could be under house arrest for a maximum of 5 months and 29 days. The only exceptions to their house arrest are leaving for medical and religious reasons, plus employment purposes.
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Ralph Fernandez, who spoke on behalf of both parents, did not anticipate Howell Donaldson III's parents changing their minds. Howell Donaldson Junior and his wife, Rosita Donaldson refused to answer questions regarding their son's case.
“From day one, they indicated they would not testify against their son and as you can see the risk was high," Fernandez said.
At a court hearing on Friday, the judge reminded Donaldson's parents they could end the court order for indirect civil contempt at any time, if they agree to meet with prosecutors and provide truthful testimony. But, if they choose to remain silent, they must complete their house arrest. If they continue to be non-compliant to the court's order after that time, the state can proceed in any matter they feel appropriate, according to the judge.
“From the beginning we wanted them to comply with questions that they are legally obligated to answer and we hope that the sanctions that the court imposed will bring us to that," State Attorney Andrew Warren for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit said.
The couple's son, Howell Emanuel Donaldson III is accused of killing four people over a span of six weeks in the Seminole Heights neighborhood of Tampa. He was booked into jail on November 29 and charged with four counts of First-Degree Murder in connection to the murders of Benjamin Mitchell, Monica Hoffa, Anthony Naiboa and Ronald Felton.
Mary Stringini is a Digital Producer for ABC Action News. Follow her on Twitter @MaryWFTS.