TAMPA, Fla. - Attorneys for the accused Seminole Heights serial killer, Howell Trae Donaldson, III are asking a Tampa judge to throw out the death penalty. They say prosecutors made mistakes that violated Donaldson's rights.
In a just-filed, six-page motion, his attorneys argue when a grand jury indicted Donaldson on four first-degree murder charges, prosecutors failed to tell the grand jury about the aggravating factors that qualify this case for capital punishment.
They say Donaldson's due process rights were violated and, therefore, he should not face death.
Defense attorney Anthony Rickman, who is not involved in the case, reviewed the motion and said it has no legal teeth.
"I believe they’re going to lose this motion. This motion is not rooted in law. Nowhere in the law does it say that a grand jury finds aggravating circumstances during the indictment phase," explained Rickman.
Donaldson is accused of causing terror and panic in Seminole Heights in the fall of 2017.
They say he gunned down four innocent people: Benjamin Mitchell, Monica Hoffa, Anthony Naiboa, and Ronald Felton.
Victims of the accused Seminole Heights serial killer
All happened to be walking alone, at night.
Tampa police released home surveillance video of the suspected gunman walking and running near the shootings, as they hunted for him.
After Donaldson was arrest and indictment by a grand jury, prosecutors announced they would seek the death penalty.
Rickman says the only chance of that changing is if the state decided not to pursue it. He doesn't see that happening.
"There is no legal basis at this point in time for a court to take death off the table," argued Rickman.
Donaldson is scheduled in court on Thursday.