In a twist in the Seminole Heights serial killer case, the suspect's parents may be held in contempt of court for refusing to answer questions about their son.
It is important to note nothing the parents say in an investigative subpoena can be used against the parents themselves.
It comes after prosecutors said the couple refused to cooperate with the investigation into their son's past.
The parents were being interviewed in separate rooms Tuesday when they refused to continue answering questions. "Because most people understand that they have a duty to answer questions". At a 10 a.m. hearing, County Judge Margaret Taylor will decide whether their refusal to testify constitutes indirect criminal contempt.
"I think its important to safeguard these truly significant family values in this time of tremendous family stress", he said.
But mostly, he said, they are anxious that anything they might say could lead prosecutors to seek the death penalty against their son or help put him on death row.
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This file booking photo provided by the Tampa Police Department, Fla., on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017, shows Howell Emanuel Donaldson, the suspect in a string of four slayings that terrorized a Tampa neighborhood. He was taken into custody last week at the McDonald's in Ybor City, where he works, after handing a gun to a co-worker and asking her to watch it. They wanted to ask the alleged gunman's parents about his background, mental state and the gun.
Assistant State Attorney Jay Pruner told the judge that the state believes there is no privilege that allows the Donaldsons to avoid answering questions, which is what prosecutors were seeking when they requested the hearing.
"I'm not going to speculate on why the parents didn't provide information", Warren said.
The younger Donaldson was arrested November 28.
"We're doing everything we can using all mechanisms possible to build as strong a case as possible to seek justice for the victim's families, for the residents of Seminole Heights and the entire community".
His parents are represented by attorney Ralph Fernandez, who did not return a call for comment.
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