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Death Penalty Pursued for Suspected Serial Killer, Howell Emanuel Donaldson III, in 2017 FL Multiple Murders - Page 4
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Thread: Death Penalty Pursued for Suspected Serial Killer, Howell Emanuel Donaldson III, in 2017 FL Multiple Murders

  1. #31
    Administrator Helen's Avatar
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    Citing lack of cooperation, lawyers ask to bar Seminole Heights victims parents as witnesses

    The parents of murder victim Anthony Naiboa have avoided testifying in pretrial depositions in the case of Howell Donaldson, court documents state

    By Dan Sullivan
    Tampa Bay Times

    TAMPA Defense attorneys for the man accused of four killings in Tampas southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood have asked a judge to bar the parents of one victim from being witnesses at trial, citing a lack of cooperation.

    Anthony Naiboa was the third person killed in a series of four apparently random shootings that occurred over several weeks in the fall of 2017. The state has accused Howell Donaldson III of the murders.

    As the case against Donaldson has moved toward trial, lawyers for the state and defense have sought to take pretrial deposition testimony from scores of witnesses. They include Naiboas father, Casimar Naiboa, and stepmother, Maria Rodriguez.

    But both parents have avoided testifying. It is not clear why.

    A recent court motion filed by the office of Hillsborough Public Defender Julianne Holt details the repeated efforts lawyers have made to have the couple testify. Both have failed to show up for scheduled depositions. After multiple subpoenas, Rodriguez finally did appear but refused to answer questions about her son.

    The defense motion asks that the couple be excluded as witnesses in both the guilt and penalty phases of Donaldsons trial. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. Donaldsons next court hearing is set for later this month. No trial date has been set.

    A spokesperson for the office of Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren declined to comment about the issue. It is not clear if prosecutors will challenge the defenses motion.

    With their motion, the defense attached several documents illustrating their attempts to get Naiboas parents to testify.

    The documents include email correspondence with Assistant State Attorney John Terry. In January 2020, Terry sent an email to one of Donaldsons defense attorneys asking to reschedule the couples depositions, which were to occur late that month. He wrote that they had apparently told the states victim assistant that it was too difficult for them to attend.

    I believe they are evading service right now, Terry wrote. We have tried to reach them and have left messages but they are not returning our calls at the moment.

    The prosecutor wrote that he thought the pair would need some cajoling.

    I have no doubt I will eventually get them to cooperate, Terry wrote. I just need a little more time.

    The depositions were reset for April 2020, but they were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The pair were served with subpoenas to appear for a new date of May 14, 2020, but they did not show up.

    Very surprised neither showed, Terry wrote in an email that afternoon. He noted that someone from the State Attorneys Office had spent time with Rodriguez, explaining the importance of the deposition and the potential consequences.

    "Frustrating, Terry wrote.

    In a later message, he wrote that he felt the couple would continue to ignore subpoenas. But the lawyers tried again, setting a new date for June 10, 2020.

    That morning, Rodriguez showed up. As Public Defender Julianne Holt began to question her, Rodriguez gave her name and date of birth, but then refused to go any further. She said she only came so that she wouldnt be arrested, according to a deposition transcript.

    I showed up, and thats all that I want to be reported, that I showed up, she said. But I do not want to answer no question that has to do with Anthony. Im sorry."

    The defense attorneys left the room while Rodriguez spoke privately with the prosecutor. Returning minutes later, Holt noted that Rodriguez was crying and did not appear to be capable of continuing, according to the transcript. Rodriguez had explained that a lawyer friend told her if she simply showed up, she could avoid getting into trouble. She also mentioned that Anthonys father works out of state and she did not know when he would return.

    Casimar Naiboa declined to comment when reached by phone Friday.

    When he spoke to the Tampa Bay Times in October 2020, he said his family had experienced fatigue at the cases duration. He said that he and his wife had refused to testify in depositions because they believed the lawyers wanted to dig up dirt about his son.

    He said they felt re-victimized.

    Donaldson is charged with four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Naiboa, Benjamin Mitchell, Monica Hoffa, and Ronald Felton.

    Police determined the killings were are all committed with the same handgun, a .40 Glock. Donaldson was arrested in late November 2017. A manager at the Ybor City McDonalds where he worked notified police after he gave her a bag that contained a .40 Glock handgun and told her to hold onto it while he ran an errand. Firearms tests linked the weapon to bullet shell casings found at the murder scenes, according to court records.

    In late 2020, a judge agreed with defense attorneys that the four homicides should be split into four trials, instead of one. Prosecutors asked that evidence of the other crimes be allowed into each trial, but a judge denied their request. The case is on hold while a state appeal of that issue is pending.

    https://www.tampabay.com/news/hillsb...-as-witnesses/


    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

  2. #32
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    Attorney for accused Seminole Heights serial killer wants the death penalty thrown out

    Howell Donaldson III faces 4 trials for killings that terrorized the community in 2017

    The attorney for the man arrested and accused of 4 killings that terrorized the Seminole Heights community in 2017 is now looking to have the death penalty taken off the table.

    A motion filed in Hillsborough County Court on Jan. 7 claims that if the death penalty is sought, Howell Donaldson III's Due Process would be denied and violations of the state and federal Constitutions would occur.

    So, what does that mean? Donaldson's attorney says it all comes down to the indictment against him.

    According to the motion filed, the defense finds that the state "failed" to "charge a capital crime" or to "allege the elements of a crime punishable by the death penalty" in the Grand Jury indictment.

    The documents go on to say that when the Grand Jury returned an indictment in the case, "aggravating factors" were not presented for their consideration.

    "The Indictment fails to allege the commission of a capital crime because it fails to expressly allege that sufficient aggravating factors exist as required to impose the death penalty," the motion reads.

    While Donaldson tries to save his own life at 29, criminal defense attorney Denis deVlaming recently reviewed the motion and says it will likely fail.

    "I think what the defense is trying to do admirably, but quite frankly, is to try to save his life. I don't think they're going to have success in winning the case. It's not an obligation of the grand jury to determine whether or not the death penalty is going to be imposed. That is specifically and solely the obligation of the prosecutor," deVlaming said.

    "I think by not telling them, the aggravating factors, and so forth, in order for them to make that decision, is just not going to fly."

    Donaldson will have a Zoom hearing related to the motion at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday.

    The accused Tampa Bay area serial killer is said to have murdered Benjamin Mitchell, Monica Hoffa, Anthony Naiboa and Ronald Felton in October and November of 2017. All 4 shootings happened within blocks of each other.

    The killings led to a massive manhunt that led to Donaldson's capture at the McDonald's where he worked.

    A series of court motions since his arrest have delayed Donaldson's trials. In July 2018, a judge found him competent to stand trial after a mental health evaluation. That trial was set to start in August 2020, but a judge instead granted a motion to try each murder case separately.

    Then, in 2021, a judge denied the state's request to introduce similar evidence across the four crimes into each separate trial.

    Prosecutors argued that evidence shows a "unique pattern of criminal activity" that would be relevant to the other cases, while the defense said each case was a "similar but separate episode that must be tried separately," according to court documents.

    "The Court does not find the details surrounding the four murders to be sufficiently similar to warrant admission in each individual trial," the judge wrote.

    Instead, jurors assigned to each of Donaldson's 4 separate trials will only focus on the one specific murder case in front of them.

    His trial dates have not been set.

    (source: WTSP news)
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

  3. #33
    Senior Member CnCP Legend Bobsicles's Avatar
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    Accused Seminole Heights serial killer wants death penalty tossed in case

    By Gloria Gomez | FOX 13 News

    TAMPA, Fla. - The accused Seminole Heights serial killer will be in a Tampa courtroom Thursday to fight for his life.

    Howell Trae Donaldson wants the death penalty tossed out from his case, calling it unconstitutional. He is accused of causing terror and panic in Seminole Heights in the fall of 2017.

    Prosecutors said he gunned down four people; Benjamin Mitchell, Monica Hoffa, Anthony Naiboa, and Ronald Felton; who happened to be walking alone. After Donaldson was arrested and indicted by a grand jury, prosecutors announced they would seek the death penalty.

    It will be up to a Tampa judge to decide whether capital punishment stays or goes from this case.

    Defense attorney Anthony Rickman, who is not connected to this case, believes the defense is laying the groundwork for future appeals.

    "Any motion not filed, anything not addressed at the trial level is waived, so what they are doing is filing this motion, putting it on the record, and it gives them one more avenue to appeal at the end of the day, if he is convicted and sentenced to death," explained Rickman.

    In this jailhouse visit with his parents, Donaldson said his spirit is broken but thankful to be alive. But more court filings show his defense team is mounting a legal battle to get other evidence thrown out or severely limit it.

    For instance, victim impact statements from the families of the victims. These statements would be heard in the penalty phase of the trial if Donaldson was convicted.

    The defense wants to limit the number to people who testify and only allow "immediate family" members. They said it could inflame the jury and that would be extremely dangerous.

    Prosecutors are fighting it, arguing the State Supreme court believes family impact testimony plays an important role in the legal process.

    Donaldson's hearing is set for Thursday afternoon.

    https://www.fox13news.com/news/accus...ed-in-case.amp
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  4. #34
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    Tampa judge keeps death penalty in accused Seminole Heights serial killer case

    By Gloria Gomez
    Fox 13 News

    TAMPA, Fla. - The accused Seminole Heights serial killer was back in court Thursday as his defense team argued to toss out the death penalty in the case.

    Howell Trae Donaldson's defense team argued the death penalty was unconstitutional. After a slough of arguments, the Tampa judge decided the death penalty will remain in the case.

    Donaldson's defense also wanted to keep out the testimony of Anthony Naiboa's parents, arguing Casimar Naiboa and Maria Rodriguez have been no-shows for scheduled depositions. The defense said they wanted the parents barred from testifying at trial.

    Prosecutors fought that, arguing Anthony's parents are still coping with enormous loss. In Thursday's court appearance, the judge ordered Rodriguez and her husband to show up for the next scheduled deposition.

    Donaldson is accused of causing terror and panic in Seminole Heights back in Fall 2017. Prosecutors said he gunned down four people who were walking alone. The four victims included Benjamin Mitchell, Monica Hoffa, Anthony Naiboa, and Ronald Felton.

    Prosecutors announced they would seek the death penalty after Donaldson was arrested and indicted by a grand jury.

    https://www.fox13news.com/news/tampa...al-killer-case
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

  5. #35
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    Seminole Heights murder trials can include evidence from other killings, court rules

    In the case of Howell Donaldson, an appeals court Friday overturned a ruling that limited what evidence the state can use in each of four trials

    By Dan Sullivan
    Tampa Bay Times

    TAMPA Prosecutors will be able to talk about evidence of other crimes specifically that four separate Seminole Heights shootings were linked by the same gun in the four murder trials of Howell Emanuel Donaldson III, an appeals court has ruled.

    A three-judge panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal on Friday overturned an earlier trial court ruling that barred the state from using evidence of the other murders in each trial.

    The fact that the same gun was used in each homicide is relevant for the state to establish that Donaldson was the perpetrator, wrote appellate Judge J. Andrew Atkinson.

    Donaldson, 29, is accused in the slayings of Benjamin Mitchell, Monica Hoffa, Anthony Naiboa, and Ronald Felton. The four were each shot to death, apparently at random, over a 51-day period in the fall of 2017 in Tampas southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood. Police found spent .40-caliber bullet shell casings at the murder scenes.

    Donaldson was arrested in late November 2017 after his manager at an Ybor City McDonalds restaurant notified police that hed given her a food bag that held a .40-caliber Glock handgun. Police determined the weapon was the same one used in all four murders.

    Donaldsons public defenders asked to split the case into four trials, arguing that doing so was necessary for a fair determination of his guilt or innocence in each case. Judge Samantha Ward agreed.

    The state then asked to use evidence of the other murders in the four trials. They argued that such evidence was necessary to establish that Donaldson committed each crime, and that the other murders were relevant to refute a potential defense that someone else may have had possession of the weapon.

    But the judge declined. She opined that the individual cases were not similar enough. The state appealed, prompting Fridays ruling.

    We agree with the courts decision and we are continuing to prepare for trial, using all the available evidence to prove that he murdered four innocent people, Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren said in a statement.

    A trial date has not yet been set.

    If Donaldson is found guilty, prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty.

    https://www.tampabay.com/news/hillsb...s-court-rules/
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

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