Accused Seminole Heights killer waives right to appear at court Tuesday

For the first time since his arrest, the suspected Seminole Heights serial killer makes an appearance in court.

TAMPA, Fla. -- Howell Donaldson III, the accused Seminole Heights killer, will not appear at his scheduled arraignment Tuesday.

The 24-year-old suspect and his attorney instead are expected to file a written plea to the judge around 9 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 12, waiving his right to appear, according to court officials. The intended plea is not yet known.

Donaldson first appeared in court in late November while arrested on four counts of felony first-degree murder in the killings of Benjamin Edward Mitchell on Oct. 9, Monica Hoffa on Oct. 11, Anthony Naiboa on Oct. 19 and Ronald Felton on Nov. 14 in the southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood.

He appeared shackled and handled by Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office deputies. 

Earlier: Suspect's parents face hearing on their silence

Donaldson's parents have until early January 2018 to answer questions about their son or explain to the court why they shouldn't be held in civil contempt. Assistant State Attorney Jay Pruner last week said parents Howell Jr. and Rosita Donaldson responded to the state's subpoena for information but refused not to answer questions.

Those questions relate to their son's mental health, his history, whether he owned a gun and others the state believes is relevant to their investigation. 

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