(TAMPA, FLa.) — Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against a suspected serial killer in Tampa who is accused of shooting and killing four people between Oct. 9 and Nov. 14, causing widespread fear in the Seminole Heights neighborhood.
The death penalty is for the “worst of the worst,” Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren said at a news conference this morning.
“This case, in which the defendant murdered four innocent victims in a cold, calculated and premeditated manner, qualifies [for the death penalty],” Warren said.
The suspect, Howell Donaldson III, was arrested in late November after a nearly two-month search. Donaldson was found after a McDonald’s manager alerted police that the suspect had handed over a McDonald’s bag containing a gun, which authorities have said is linked to all four killings.
Donaldson is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and has pleaded not guilty. His attorney declined to comment today on Warren’s announcement.
Warren said that some of the victims’ families preferred seeking the death penalty while others preferred life in prison, but all were OK with prosecutors proceeding with the death penalty.
There is no evidence of mental illness or any other factor “giving us pause” in the decision to move forward, Warren said.
Warren said that while they cannot bring back the victims, prosecutors “can seek justice for their deaths, and we will.”
Warren added that he is “heartbroken” for the suspect’s parents.
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