Monday, December 11, 2017


Dan Sullivan

Dan Sullivan

Dan Sullivan covers Hillsborough County courts for the Tampa Bay Times. Since joining the Times in 2010, he has written about unsolved crimes, the opioid epidemic, gun control, and Florida's death row, among other topics. In 2014, he was a Livingston Award finalist for a story that examined a legal loophole that allows Florida to hold mentally challenged criminal defendants without trial. A native of Salt Lake City, Utah, he is a 2006 graduate of the University of Tampa, where he earned a degree in writing.

Howell Donaldson Jr., left, and his wife, Rosita, parents of the suspect in the Seminole Heights murders, appear at a hearing Thursday as prosecutors try to force them to answer investigators' questions about Howell Emanuel Donaldson III.

Parents’ dilemma: Refuse questions in Seminole Heights murder case or risk harming son’s defense

TAMPA — Here’s the dilemma for the parents of Howell Emanuel Donaldson III:Hillsborough County’s top prosecutors want to question them to learn what they may know of their son’s potential involvement in four Seminole Heights murders. But...
Published: 12/07/17
OCTAVO JONES   |   Times  the parents of Howell Donaldson Jr., left, and his wife, Rosita the parents of Seminole Heights murder suspect Howell Donaldson III appear in court for contempt for refusing to answer questions from the state attorney's office on Thursday, December 7, 2017.

January contempt hearing set for parents of suspect in Seminole Heights killings

TAMPA — A judge ordered parents of the man accused in the Seminole Heights murders Thursday to appear before her next month and explain why she shouldn’t hold them in civil contempt for refusing to answer investigators’ questions.Howell Jr. and...
Published: 12/07/17
Rosita Donaldson, left, and Howell Donaldson Jr., the parents of the Seminole Heights murders suspect, speak to a Tampa Bay Times reporter at the office of lawyer Ralph Fernandez on Friday, December 1, 2017, in Tampa.

Parents of Seminole Heights murder suspect refuse to talk to investigators; judge to rule

TAMPA — Investigators had questions for the parents of Howell Emanuel Donaldson III, the suspect in four Seminole Heights killings. They wanted to ask Howell Jr. and Rosita Donaldson about their 24-year-old son’s background, developmental...
Published: 12/06/17
At an arraignment in Hillsborough Circuit Court on Wednesday, Steven Lorenzo said he wants to serve as his own attorney during his trial in the sexual torture murders of two Tampa men. [CHRIS URSO | Times]

Steven Lorenzo says double jeopardy trumps Tampa murder case. Is he right?

TAMPA — More than a decade ago, a federal jury convicted Steven Lorenzo of conspiracy and drug crimes. Behind those offenses were allegations that he sexually tortured and murdered two men.Ordered to serve a 200-year prison sentence, the...
Published: 12/05/17
At an arraignment in Hillsborough Circuit Court on Wednesday, Steven Lorenzo said he wants to serve as his own attorney during his trial in the sexual torture murders of two Tampa men. [CHRIS URSO | Times]

Judge finds Steven Lorenzo competent to stand trial in Tampa murders

TAMPA — Steven Lorenzo understands the case against him and is competent to stand trial.That was the conclusion of a doctor’s report assessing the murder defendant’s sanity, which was discussed in a Monday afternoon court...
Published: 12/04/17
Devon Arthurs, 18, told police  he shared neo-Nazi beliefs with his roommates, Jeremy Himmelman and Andrew Oneschuk, until he converted to Islam, according to a police report .
[Tampa Police]

Judge orders mental health exam for defendant in Tampa neo-Nazi murder case

TAMPA — Devon Arthurs, the man at the center of a bizarre double-murder case that carried overtones of neo-Nazism and violent extremism, will undergo a mental health exam, a judge said Monday.Attorneys for Arthurs asked Circuit Judge Laura Ward...
Published: 12/04/17
Rosita Donaldson, the mother of the man facing murder charges in the Seminole Heights deaths, Howell Emanuel Donaldson III, speaks to reporters at the office of Tampa attorney Ralph Fernandez on Friday. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA   |   Times]

Parents of Seminole Heights murder suspect struggle to understand why

TAMPA — The people who knew him best have struggled to understand how police could accuse Howell "Trai" Donaldson III of striking down four strangers with gunfire, terrorizing Seminole Heights for 51 days.His parents said they also have no...
Published: 12/01/17
Tampa Attorney Ralph Fernandez [Times files]

Attorney for parents of Seminole Heights murder suspect says they are ‘heartbroken’

TAMPA — Attorney Ralph Fernandez is representing the parents of the man accused in four Seminole Heights murders and is assembling a team of lawyers who might take their son’s case, he said Friday.Fernandez did not say who would be on the team...
Published: 12/01/17
Howell Emanuel Donaldson III appears for his first court appearance in front of Judge Margaret Taylor where he is charged four counts of first degree in the Seminole Heights killings at the Hillsborough County Courthouse Annex in Tampa, Florida on Thursday, November 30, 2017. [Octavio Jones | Times]

State Attorney: Man accused in Seminole Heights killings could face death

TAMPA — Howell Donaldson stepped beside his lawyer looking haggard, his wrists clasped in chains, his body wrapped in a green anti-suicide smock. He said nothing as a judge explained via a closed-circuit TV that he faces four counts of first-degree...
Published: 11/30/17
Howell Emanuel Donaldson III, 24, wearing a white jumpsuit, is led by officers into the Orient Road Jail early Wednesday morning. Donaldson was arrested on four counts of first-degree murder in connection with the Seminole Heights slayings, Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan announced at a news conference hours earlier. [CHRIS URSO  |  Times]

What comes next for the man accused in four Seminole Heights murders?

TAMPA — Howell Emanuel Donaldson III is scheduled to make his first court appearance at 9 a.m. today to face murder charges in a string of Seminole Heights killings.It will be the beginning of what will likely be a legal odyssey that could last...
Published: 11/29/17