Prosecutors say that a Florida man who is accused of killing four people over a few weeks almost six years ago pleaded guilty to murder on Monday. He accepted a deal that will keep him from getting the death sentence.
The Tampa Bay Times said that Howell Emanuel Donaldson III, who was called the “Seminole Heights serial killer,” pleaded guilty to four counts of first-degree murder and will serve four straight sentences of life without release.
“There is no question that this is and always will be a death penalty case,” Hillsborough County State Attorney Suzy Lopez said at a news conference. “This coward did terrible things and caused trouble in our neighborhood for weeks. He will now spend the rest of his life in jail, where he will never again be in the news.
The deal was announced in court on Monday morning by Donaldson’s lawyers, the Times said. The defense made the offer to Lopez’s office about two and a half weeks ago, the newspaper said.
WFTS-TV said that Donaldson was caught in the fall of 2017 and charged with killing Benjamin Mitchell, who was 22, Monica Hoffa, who was 32, Anthony Naiboa, who was 20, and Ronald Felton, who was 60.
Over 51 days, four people were killed in the Seminole Heights area of Tampa. WFLA-TV says that each person was killed in the early morning hours between October 9 and November 14.
The Times reported that on November 28, 2017, a manager at a Tampa McDonald’s in the Ybor City neighborhood told a police officer that one of her workers had given her a plastic sandwich bag that she thought had a gun in it.
She said that the worker, who she later found out was named Donaldson, told her to hold on to it while he went to get some cash. Assistant State Attorney Scott Harmon said in court that the man said he was getting ready to leave the area because he had “done something bad that he couldn’t take back.”
The Times said that the gun was tested, and gun experts matched the gun to shells that were found at the crime spots.
The newspaper says that Donaldson’s family didn’t hold back when they were mad at him.
“I wanted them to stick a needle in your arm,” Kenny Hoffa, Hoffa’s father, said to Donaldson. “But then I thought that wasn’t a good idea. Because we all have to deal with pain every day. And now you’ll have to go through the same pain we do.”
“I want you dead,” Nakeshia Brown, Mitchell’s sister, told Donaldson. “Hate is a strong word, but I hate you… When you go back through those walls, I wish you hell on earth.”