Parents of murder suspect appear in court


- The parents of accused Seminole Heights serial killer Trai Donaldson III now have a choice: Answer prosecutors' questions or possibly be held in contempt of court next month.

They refused on Tuesday to answer questions about their son, Howell Donaldson III, who now faces four counts of first-degree murder.

Ralph Fernandez, who is representing the Donaldsons, said the parents are devastated, adding that their refusal to answer questions was meant to avoid further emotional pain.

The state wants answers to questions like if 24-year-old Donaldson suffered from mental health issues or if he was under psychiatric care prior to the murders, but Rosita and Howell Junior are not talking.

"Each time the response that was elicited was, 'I'm not going to answer that question, '" Fernandez said.

The couple is scheduled to appear before Hillsborough County Judge Margaret Taylor during a 10 a.m. hearing to determine whether they should be held in contempt of court.

Fernandez also said the Donaldsons have been devastated and have reached out in prayer to the victims, their families and the Seminole Heights community.

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The State Attorney has a few weeks to decide if he'll seek the death penalty.

Their son was arrested November 28 on four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Benjamin Mitchell, Monica Hoffa, Anthony Naiboa and Ronald Felton. He says most people understand they have a duty to answer questions. The parents of Donaldson will go before a judge Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, after refusing to answer questions about their son.

Taylor said the state attorney's office has authority to subpoena the parents and question them.

Prior to Thursday's hearing, Fernandez told ABC News that the Donaldsons were "fully advised" on their actions and are "ready to take the effect". Anthony Naiboa, a 20-year-old man authorities described as having mild autism, was killed October 19 after taking the wrong bus home from work, according to police.

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

They previously told FOX 13 news that they still love their son, despite the accusations.

"I prayed for those families when it first started", Rosita Donaldson said, holding back tears. "Our hearts go out to the families and the loss that they have".