Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wants more details about why an Orlando prosecutor refused to pursue charges against a career criminal who was released from custody and allegedly murdered three people.

Suspended State Attorney Fires Back At Florida Gov. DeSantis, But Predicted This Was Coming

During a press conference Wednesday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis suspended 9th Circuit State Attorney Monique H. Worrell.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former State Attorney Monique H. Worrell

During a press conference Wednesday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis suspended 9th Circuit State Attorney Monique H. Worrell.

Firing back, the suspended prosecutor said DeSantis, a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, was a “weak dictator” and acting for political reasons.

Worrell said to reporters on Wednesday, “Elected officials are being taken out of office solely for political purposes. Under this tyranny, elected officials can be removed simply for political purposes and by a whim of the governor, and no matter how you feel about me, you should not be OK with that.

“This is simply a smoke screen for Ron DeSantis’ failing and disastrous presidential campaign. He needed to get back in the media in some positive way. That would be red meat for his base. And he will have accomplished that today.”

But DeSantis’ office says not so fast, “Worrell’s practices and policies have too often allowed violent criminals to escape the full consequences of their criminal conduct, thereby endangering the innocent civilians of Orange and Osceola counties.”

The 15-page order, issued by DeSantis, accused Worrell of allowing practices and policies that “systematically permitted violent offenders, drug traffickers, serious-juvenile offenders, and pedophiles to evade incarceration.”

DeSantis pointed out Wednesday that in March, Keith Moses, a 19-year-old killed three people, including a journalist and a nine-year-old girl, in shootings in Orange County.

Moses’ criminal history includes eight felonies and 11 misdemeanor cases.

Worrell’s office did not prosecute Moses due to the amount of cannabis found.

Following the shootings, DeSantis blasted Worrell’s office and said her office may have permitted this dangerous individual to remain on the street.

Worrell is the second Democratic prosecutor DeSantis has removed.

Last year, the governor suspended Andrew Warren of Tampa over his “woke” agenda, including pledging not to enforce a 15-week abortion ban and supporting gender transition for minors.

Warren was replaced by Suzy Lopez, who has since taken a hard stance on crime and cracked down on violent teen offenders in Hillsborough County.

As State Attorney for the 13th District, Lopez praised DeSantis’ move Wednesday, “The Governor’s decisive action today is the unfortunate result of another prosecutor who wants to create laws instead of enforcing them. I hope the changes in the 9th Judicial Circuit will result in the same level of success we have had at restoring the voice of crime victims in our courtrooms and rebuilding trust with law enforcement.”

Lopez announced in March a change in how violent juvenile offender cases are evaluated and offenders charged with the rise in teen gun violence.

“We have a team who evaluates each case; they look at the defendant’s age, the charge, the prior history, and other factors,” said Lopez said in March. “For example, most recently, a juvenile was direct filed into adult court. For the last three years, he has had over 20 pending cases in the juvenile system, many involving guns. He picked up a new charge that was gun related, and that charge was direct filed into adult court.”

Worrell saw this coming.

As recent as Saturday, August 5, 2023, the Fraternal Order of Police Orlando Lodge #25, blasted Worrell for soft-on-crime policies after two Orlando Police officers who were shot by a child sex offender.

“Daton Viel was a violent criminal that the Orange/Osceola County State Attorney let walk the streets after Orlando Police arrested him in March of this year for sexually assaulting a child. He was on probation at the time of his arrest, yet Monique Worrell let him out. Now 2 Orlando Police Officers’ lives have changed forever. Monique Worrell’s soft-on-crime stance has yet again let the citizens of Orlando down. When is this reckless behavior going to end?” said the FOP.

The two officers shot were “critically injured,” according to Orlando Police Department.

The Orlando Sentinel reported that Viel was also wanted in connection to a fatal shooting in Miami and has been arrested on multiple felony charges in Orange County since 2016.

In May 2023, Worrell told the Ocala Gazette that recent requests for information from DeSantis’ office and others about her handling of certain cases are setting the stage for her possible removal.

Worrell suggested the Republican governor was on a “witch hunt” to take her down in part because she is black and female.

“I think that a lot of the legislation that he’s passed shows where he stands with his views on cultural diversity and women in positions of power,” Worrell, who was in Ocala to speak at a Marion County NAACP function, told the Gazette.

“I think that in a democracy, whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, you should be very concerned that, you know, the democracy is being undermined.”

The governor coyly hinted at Worrell’s anxiety while speaking to reporters in Titusville in May.

“I think she was making rummagings [sic] about that,” he said during the press conference. “If she thought somehow she was going to be removed, why is she thinking that? Is she doing something that deserves removal?”

In Ocala, Worrell played up the victim angle. She noted that a Republican official from Orange County had requested information from Worrell about human trafficking cases that her office had dropped. The official reportedly told Worrell’s office that she wanted to share the information with DeSantis.

Worrell told the Gazette the incident was part of “an ongoing attempt by Tallahassee to build a basis to remove her.”

“I think that they always had an agenda to try to figure out how to get me out of office as quickly as possible,” she added. “And it’s just become more obvious within probably the last six months or so by different interactions that we’ve had.”

Worrell also suggested again that racism and sexism were part of the equation.

She told the Gazette that DeSantis and other GOP leaders have ignored cases involving violence committed by juveniles with long criminal records in Marion and Brevard counties because the elected state attorneys in those areas, Bill Gladson and Phil Archer, are Republicans.

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