Tag Archives: subpoena

The State is Trying to Force the Parents of Accused Tampa Serial Killer to Cooperate

howell donaldson trai

Howell Donaldson III

The state has charged Howell “Trai” Donaldson III with four counts of murder for a string of killings in the Seminole Heights area of Tampa in the last few weeks. The State then subpoenaed his parents, Howell Donaldson, Jr. and Rosita Donaldson, to ask them about his history, including criminal, mental health and so forth. His parents, who were concerned that the State may try to use any evidence they provided to put their son to death, refused to answer the State’s questions or to cooperate. While the concerns may be sympathetic, there is no parental privilege applicable in this circumstance.

The State moved to hold them in contempt, and a hearing was held today in court. The Judge ruled that they would have to comply with the subpoena and to testify. He has given them until January 5, 2018 to answer the prosecutors questions or risk being found in contempt of court, which could include jail time.

This is fascinating, from a legal perspective, and the first time I’ve seen something like it. They were lawfully served with a subpoena (probably an Instanter), and the judge probably correctly orders them to comply under the law. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. The serial murders he is charged with are shocking, as four seemingly unconnected, innocent people were killed. The young man accused was a college graduate who was apparently polite, even with the cops that arrested him. This case will be in the headlines for some time.

Tracie Hunter Trial Has a Jury, Openings Slated Today… After the Court Considers Subpoenas

Attorneys in the trial of Judge Tracie Hunter were able to seat a jury yesterday, on the second day of selection. Openings are scheduled for 10 am, today.

There’s a hurdle the court must address beforehand. Hunter’s attorney, Clyde Bennett, has listed a wide array of public figures from Southwest Ohio, including several journalists. There has been speculation that listing them as witnesses was specifically designed to prevent them from sitting in the courtroom during evidence in the trial. Enquirer/Cincinnati.com writer Kimball Perry, who has been live tweeting the case from the courtroom, was served a subpoena today, and attorneys for his paper are seeking to quash the subpoena in the morning. He faces being barred from covering the trial from inside the courtroom.

It will be interesting to see how Judge Nadel handle the situation. Perry has a 1st Amendment right to cover the trial, and we all have a right to have the trial covered! On the other hand, Hunter has a right to a fair trial, which generally includes sequestration of witnesses. I suspect the judge will try to find some middle ground; he must permit Hunter to call her witness if they can testify to relevant evidence, but I doubt that would necessitate barring him from the courtroom.

Cincinnati.com will be livestreaming the opening statements, tomorrow morning.

follow Kimball Perry’s live tweeting (provided he gets to keep it up): https://twitter.com/kimballperry