TAMPA (CBSMiami) – The parents of an accused serial killer in Tampa are now facing potential legal trouble of their own.
Howell Donaldson Jr. and Rosita Donaldson are refusing to answer investigators’ questions about their son, Howell Donaldson III, who is accused of murdering four people.
The Tampa Bay Times reports investigators wanted to question the Donaldsons on Tuesday about their son’s background, developmental history, gun possession and state of mind.
“This is a rarity,” said State Attorney Andrew Warren. “Because most people understand that they have a duty to answer questions. And when that duty is explained to them by a judge, they’re willing to provide us answers.”
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.
At a court hearing Thursday morning, a judge said the parents must “show cause as to why they shouldn’t be held in contempt for refusing to cooperate.”
The newspaper reports that on Tuesday, Andrew Shafii, one of two attorneys who accompanied Rosita Donaldson, told prosecutors neither parent would testify.
A hearing has been set for Jan. 5.
The younger Donaldson faces four counts of first-degree murder in the apparently random shooting spree in Tampa’s Seminole Heights neighborhood that began in early October. He was arrested Nov. 28.