TAMPA, Fla. — The man accused of killing four people in the Seminole Heights area of Tampa in the fall of 2017 will go on trial next year. 

  • Howell Donaldson III charged with 4 counts of 1st degree murder
  • Trial date set for Aug. 10, 2020
  • PREVIOUS STORIES: Howell Donaldson case

A trial date for Howell Donaldson III has been set for Aug. 10, 2020. 

Donaldson appeared in a Hillsborough County courtroom Tuesday and listened as his defense team told Circuit Judge Mark Wolfe it still has more than 200 people to interview in this case. They also said they were not sure if they could complete those interviews in time for the trial. 

"We still have over 200 depositions to take, so I don’t know that 2020 would appear realistic," Public Defender Julie Holt said. "I do know that our offices are already scheduled out for trial throughout I believe May of 2020 at this time."

Donaldson, 26, is charged with four counts of first-degree murder. The prosecution is seeking the death penalty in this case.

Months ago, Donaldson complained to Wolfe about how miserable he was in jail.  

Donaldson did not speak in court, except to say "yes sir" when the judge asked if he understood today's court proceedings. 

The slayings left the community on edge for a little more than a month and received national news coverage in the fall of 2017. It started when 22-year-old Benjamin Mitchell was shot to death October 9, 2017.

Two days later, 32-year-old Monica Hoffa was slain. And on October 19, Anthony Naiboa, 20, was killed after taking the wrong bus home from a new job. On November 14, 60-year-old Ronald Felton was shot and killed.

Donaldson III was arrested November 28 at the Ybor City McDonald's where he worked after an increasingly large manhunt.