A Florida serial killer admitted to four murders and will spend the rest of his life in prison, officials said Monday. 

Howell Donaldson was 24 when he gunned down four people in 2017 in the Seminole Heights section of Tampa. Donaldson maintained his innocence until now, when he pleaded guilty to four counts of first-degree murder as part of a deal to avoid the death penalty, the Office of the State Attorney for the 13th Judicial Circuit said.

“There is no question this is and always will be a death penalty case,” State Attorney Suzy Lopez said. “This coward committed unspeakable acts and wreaked havoc on our community for weeks on end. He will now be locked in a prison cell for the rest of his life where he will make no more headlines. We do this with the blessing of the victims’ family members who can now move forward without a lengthy trial or appeals process.”

The families of the victims had previously agreed with prosecutors pursuing a death penalty in the case, CBS News reported in 2018. The killer instead now faces four consecutive life sentences. 

Donaldson killed three of the victims, 22-year-old Benjamin Edward Mitchell, 32-year-old Monica Caridad Hoffa and 20-year-old Anthony Naiboa, in October 2017, police said at the time. Naiboa was shot after taking the wrong bus home from his new job. 

The serial killer fatally shot Ronald Felton, 60, the next month. Felton was crossing a street when Donaldson came up behind him and fired. 

All four deadly shootings happened in the early morning over the course of 51 days, officials said. 

Donaldson did not live or work in the Seminole Heights neighborhood where the shootings happened. 

He was arrested in November 2017. On the day of his arrest, Donaldson went to the McDonald’s where he worked and gave a co-worker a bag for safekeeping while he ran an errand, according to the arrest report. The co-worker opened the bag, saw a gun inside and alerted her manager, who contacted police.