Parents of Tampa killing spree suspect won't answer questions

12_5_BN9_angie_dupree_01

12_5_BN9_angie_dupree_01

- The parents of Howell "Trai" Donaldson, III were ordered Wednesday to appear before a judge after refusing to give prosecutors testimony about their son, who is the accused Seminole Heights killer.

Their refusal to answer questions was simply meant to avoid further emotional pain.

Fernandez says it is unreasonable to expect parents to be able to testify against their son.

But Warren said the couple was only being questioned as part of the investigation.

State Attorney Andrew Warren called the refusal a "rarity".

"If you are a parent asked to testify against your child, what would you do?"

The Donaldsons were subpoenaed by prosecutors to, according to court documents, give information about their son's "developmental history, mode of transportation, gun possession and ownership, and state of mind".

Other than providing birth dates, names and addresses of family members, both refused to answer questions after their son was arrested and charged with four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Benjamin Mitchell, Monica Hoffa, Anthony Naiboa and Ronald Felton.

"Were not only trying to build a case against the defendant, were trying to ask the broader question of why", Warren said.

Anthony Naiboa's dad, Casimar, told 10News they want the death penalty. "So, anything they say can't be used against them", Warren said.

At the 10 a.m. hearing Thursday, prosecutors are expected to ask the Donaldsons personal and detailed questions about their son's mental health, along with other questions varying from whether they knew if he owned a gun to basics about his auto, clothing and developmental history.

If they continue to refuse to answer questions, they could face jail time.

The court filings note that the parents have been granted immunity "by operation of Florida law".

"If they rely on parent-child privilege, there is none".

The state attorney says he doesn't think it will get to that point.

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