Accused Seminole Heights serial killer wants death penalty off the table

Accused serial killer Howell Trae Donaldson was present for his virtual court hearing Thursday but it’s his legal team that is gearing up for a legal battle.

"I see there are some outstanding motions that have been filed," said Tampa judge Samantha Ward. 

The most pressing motion was recently filed by the defense asking the death penalty to be thrown out in the case. They argue prosecutors violated Donaldson's rights during a grand jury proceeding.

Prosecutor Scott Harmon said their rebuttal is coming.

"We will be preparing written responses," explained Harmon.

Donaldson is accused of causing terror and panic in Seminole Heights in the fall of 2017.

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Prosecutors say he gunned down four innocent people who happen to be walking alone. Benjamin Mitchell, Monica Hoffa, Anthony Naiboa, and Ronald Felton appeared to be randomly targeted.

Victims of the accused Seminole Heights serial killer

After Donaldson was arrested and indicted by a grand jury, prosecutors announced they would seek the death penalty.  

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In a jailhouse visit with his parents, Donaldson said his spirit is broken but thankful to be alive.

"Glad to still be standing and you know and that’s pretty much where I'm at one day at a time," said Donaldson.

Now, his lawyers will do whatever he can to save his life.

The judge scheduled a hearing date on the matter for March 24.