Judge orders no bond for Seminole Heights murder suspect until another hearing

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Suspected serial killer Howell Emanuel Donaldson III is being held without bond at the Hillsborough County Jail until another hearing on Tuesday.

Donaldson, 24, made his initial court appearance Thursday morning after being arrested on four counts of first-degree murder Tuesday.  He was represented by the Law Office of Julianne M. Holt, a public defender.

WATCH: Video shows Donaldson going to jail

A judge ordered that Donaldson be held without bond—at least until Tuesday—on four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Benjamin Mitchell, Monica Hoffa, Anthony Naiboa and Ronald Felton who were shot within a half mile of each other between October 9 and November 14.  If convicted, he could face the death penalty. The judge said a hearing will be held Tuesday to determine whether Donaldson will continue to be held without bond.

“We intend to charge the defendant with four counts of first-degree murder which requires bringing the case before the grand jury to obtain an indictment,” said Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren said at a press conference Thursday. “For the community’s safety, we’re seeking that the defendant be held without bail during the trial.”

During the pretrial detention hearing Tuesday, the state is expected to produce more in-depth evidence to bolster their argument against Donaldson, calling on witnesses such as the lead detective on the case to prove Donaldson is a flight risk and that no conditions of any bond can ensure the public’s safety.

Warren said no charges have been filed against Donaldson at this time, but prosecutors are preparing to charge Donaldson with four counts of first-degree murder.

At the moment, it’s unclear if the death penalty is on the table. Warren said there were a number of mitigating factors to consider before pursuing the death penalty.

Police said the break in the case came Tuesday at a Ybor City McDonald’s after Donaldson gave his handgun—identified in a police report as a loaded .40-caliber Glock—in a food bag to a coworker, who turned the gun over to police.

According to an arrest affidavit, the gun confiscated Tuesday contained five unfired rounds of SIG brand Smith and Wesson .40 bullets, a direct match to the fired cartridge casings recovered from all four murder scenes.

Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said Donaldson admitted that he owned the gun, but did not admit to the murders.

Cell phone records obtained by detectives showed Donaldson was within minutes of the first three murders and that his cell phone was geographically associated with cell towers in the area.

Police received more than 5,000 tips connected to the case.



WFLA.com provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s