Parents of murder suspects in Florida refuse to answer questions



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TAMPA, Fla. – The parents of the 24-year-old man suspected of a series of fatal shootings that terrorized a Florida neighborhood will go before a judge Thursday after refusing to answer questions about his son. [19659002] The Tampa Bay Times reports that investigators wanted to question Howell Donaldson Jr. and Rosita Donaldson on Tuesday about Howell Emanuel Donaldson III's background, development history, weapons possession and mood. But they refused, revealing only the names, addresses and dates of birth of the family members.

"This is a rarity," said state prosecutor Andrew Warren. "Because most people understand that they have a duty to answer questions, and when a judge explains that duty, they are willing to give us answers."

The couple must appear before Hillsborough County Magistrate Margaret Taylor during a hearing at 10 a. M. To determine if they should be considered contempt.

Young Donaldson faces four counts of first-degree murder in the seemingly random shooting in Tampa's Seminole Heights neighborhood that began in early October. He was arrested on November 28.

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

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

Harmon started asking questions to establish a record.

Rosita Donaldson said that she and her husband have a 28-year-old daughter and a 13-year-old son. She said her son had a good relationship with her two grandparents and that the family had frequent meetings during the holidays.

"Thanksgiving everyone was in our house," he said.

Then his lawyer interrupted him, saying that if she wanted to refuse to speak she needed to say no. Harmon then asked if she would continue.

"No," she said. "With all due respect, I'm not answering any more questions."

Ralph Fernandez, who represents the Donaldsons, said the parents are devastated, adding that his refusal to answer questions was intended to prevent further emotional pain. [19659003] But Warren said they are only being interrogated as part of the investigation.

"Not only are we trying to build a case against the accused, but we are trying to pose the broader question of why: a question that the families of the victims and the community deserve to have answered," Warren said.

Court documents indicate that parents have been granted immunity "by Florida law."

Unlike some states, Florida does not have a law that establishes "parent and child privilege," which would maintain the confidentiality of communications between them.

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Information from: Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Fla.), Http://www.tampabay.com.

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