News Channel 8 has tracked down witnesses on a list of more than 120 people after four murders in the Tampa neighborhood of Seminole Heights.
Many witnesses who live along East New Orleans Avenue said they heard several gunshots on the night of Oct. 11. That’s when Tampa police believe the second victim, Monica Hoffa, was killed.
“Yeah, I heard the shots. I heard the shots that evening,” said witness Janice Thornton.
Neighbor Francis Kelly also heard the shots. She didn’t lock her door for 50 years until the gunfire erupted across the street. Kelly now has a full security system with cameras around her home.
Witness said a deputy who lives nearby called 911, then grabbed a gun but also didn’t see anything.
Hoffa’s body was found two days later in an overgrown lot nearby.
“You couldn’t see her, the grass was that high,” Thornton said.
Public defenders representing accused killer Howell Donaldson III argued to Judge Mark Wolfe Wednesday that the timing of Hoffa’s death isn’t solid enough.
State prosecutors argued that all of the evidence has been made available and said the time of Hoffa’s murder cannot be narrowed down any further.
The defense also asked the judge for more time to review the discovery before it’s made public. They say they’re spread thin on resources because the office is working on more death penalty cases.
The defense’s motion for a 60-day extension stated that the initial installment of discovery contained 1,523 pages of material and 41 audio files, which total more than 20 hours of recorded interviews.
Judge Wolfe ordered that search warrants requested by News Channel 8’s attorneys are to be delivered to him on or before April 16.
The search warrants are 150 to 200 pages of information.
Wolfe also wants to receive the audio files and written material on or before May 16.
While the attorneys argue, people living near Hoffa’s memorial still wonder why the victims were killed.
“The thing we think about is they were all good people trying to do the right thing, going to work, going to school, helping themselves, getting their life going and then this happens,” Thornton said.