Will he or won’t he? That is the question many are wondering in Florida politics today as it relates to the fate of Florida’s 9th Circuit Court State Attorney Monique Worrell.
That’s simple. Last year, Gov. Ron DeSantis removed Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren from office because he pledged not to prosecute people violating the state’s new abortion laws.
DeSantis didn’t suspend Warren for refusing to prosecute people who violated that law, but did so because Warren said he wouldn’t do it in the future.
Last week in Orlando, a murderous gang member shot five people and killed three, including a local TV reporter, a mother, and her 9-year-old daughter.
This tragedy didn’t have to happen. In 2021, the accused killer was arrested by Orange County Sheriff’s deputies.
Here’s the scene: a car with three young men in it almost struck a cop car. Deputies pull it over, and as they approach the vehicle, one of the young men tosses a firearm out of the car. Deputies said there were several ski masks in the car, and they found cannabis as well.
Driving erratically, smoking pot, and having ski masks sounds an awful lot like they were pre-planning for an armed robbery spree.
Thankfully, the deputies did their job and turned over the possession of the cannabis case to the State Attorney.
Before I get to what the State Attorney did or didn’t do, let’s review this young man’s record.
I, for one, want a world where juveniles are given a second chance. A world where we don’t make assumptions based on someone’s position in life, someone’s color, ethnicity or sexual orientation. I want a just world where everyone has a chance at a productive life.
But hardened criminals and known gang members — something Orange County Sheriff John Mina said this guy was — who repeatedly commit crimes need to be removed from our streets.
From 2018 to today, this killer (I’m purposefully not writing his name) was arrested for the following crimes: grand theft auto, battery, battery, resisting officer without violence, unarmed burglary of an unoccupied conveyance, grand theft, resisting officer without violence, battery, attempted robbery with a firearm, unarmed burglary of occupied conveyance and, finally, grand theft.
As I’ve said, I believe in second chances. I do not believe in 13th chances.
Let’s take a closer look at the 2021 drug charge. After the case was referred to prosecutors, the State Attorney’s Office said it was “not suitable for prosecution.”
I’m not a lawyer, nor am I an expert on criminal statutes or standards for prosecution, but if Hillsborough’s State Attorney can be removed for saying he wouldn’t prosecute a crime, how does this case stack up?
Especially when the office’s refusal to prosecute allowed someone who should be behind bars to murder three Floridians.
Most of his arrests happened when he was a juvenile and under State Attorney Worrell’s predecessor, Aramis Ayala, who was famously suspended by then-Gov. Rick Scott for refusing to pursue the death penalty in murder cases. Irony is a full circle indeed.
Now a U.S. Senator, Scott made this statement Friday: “Every prosecutor that chose to give this young criminal a pass should be fired TODAY, and State Attorney Worrell must immediately account for how her office failed to protect the community from a violent criminal and outline what she’s changing to ensure it doesn’t happen again. … I urge state officials to look at every option available to force accountability on this office.”
Scott is clearly indicating that if he was still Governor, he would suspend Worrell.
DeSantis faces a difficult dilemma, indeed.
“Will he or won’t he?”
On Monday, after the publication of this column, DeSantis took aim at Worrell for not prosecuting the shooter.
“I cannot believe they let this guy — you have to hold people accountable. I can’t believe that this idea, and I know the State Attorney in Orlando thinks that you don’t prosecute people and that’s the way that somehow you have better communities. That does not work,” he said at a news conference.
February 27, 2023 at 7:26 am
February 27, 2023 at 8:10 am
Aside from the difference between incompetence and insubordination, he should simply ask for her resignation, and clearly state the reasons (above) why. Only if she refuses should he exercise his authority and fire here for gross incompetence.
This policy should go for *EVERY* prosecutor that gives a *KNOWN* dangerous criminal a pass. I’m not saying there won’t still be occasional tragedies. But the foreseeable ones will be far less likely to keep happening on such a regular basis.
Emanuel V Quinones
February 27, 2023 at 10:38 am
As a minor crime felon this prosecutor should be removed from office her actions cause the death of a young girl a reporter and how many others would had lost their lives. Either she’s fired or removed is what the community wants. And forget the Damn race card bullshit.
February 27, 2023 at 10:43 am
Monique Worrell had a press conference last Thursday where she addressed why the misdemeanor weed possession case (4.5 grams) was not prosecuted She said “When you have a quantity that low, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement does not test, and that means the State Attorney’s Office can’t prosecute the case.”
Here’s a link that has that quote from her press conference, and also mentions that the Department of Juvenile Justice determines a juvenile’s sentence: https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/breaking-news/os-ne-rick-scott-orlando-shootings-monique-worrell-20230224-eham4vh3cnd6fgnzjrttm5dd7e-story.html
February 28, 2023 at 1:06 pm
But these murders are not misdemeanors. Big difference between weed possession and 3 murders.
February 27, 2023 at 8:09 pm
You should have stopped at, “I’m not a lawyer.” Even if he had received the full 365 day sentence for misdemeanor possession of marijuana (constructive possession, at that) in 2021, how would that have prevented this horrible crime in 2023?
February 28, 2023 at 4:27 pm
Did you review the previous criminal record? “was arrested for the following crimes: grand theft auto, battery, battery, resisting officer without violence, unarmed burglary of an unoccupied conveyance, grand theft, resisting officer without violence, battery, attempted robbery with a firearm, unarmed burglary of occupied conveyance and, finally, grand theft.”
If the prosecutor somehow missed these then it’s not just simple incompetence, it’s gross incompetence bordering on criminal negligence.
March 1, 2023 at 1:39 pm
I have concerns about this issue and hope that it is not political, but it certainly seems that they. Am I missing something? How do you prosecute someone without knowing if the substance was in fact marijuana if the law saids not to test it! Out of all my years in law enforcement, I have never seen or heard of a drug case being prosecuted without knowing whether or not it was in fact a positive presumptive test for the drug in question. What planet are we living on to throw a person in jail on a charge that cannot be proven, WITHOUT A SHADOW OF A DOUBT. Not taken up for him, but standing up for my rights and others. You do it to him, you will do it to anyone. Yes, this case fell under her purview, but not the others. Just because a person has a record does not give the government the right to imprison someone based solely on past crimes and for a crime they cannot prove in a court of law. It was awful what he did and he should be punished by the fullest of the law. Could they have prevented this incident based on the marijuana possession case alone, absolutely not and you know it! Now, if Worrell’s office, under her purview, has evidence other than this case, of incompetence, then I am all in for her being removed, but not solely based on the marijuana charge that could not be filed for lack of evidence! If you are going to start crucifying State Attorneys for not bringing cases that warrant prosecution forward, then please review them all, that way it won’t appear to be political, because I am sure Hillsborough and Orlando are not the only counties with concerns of cases not being brought forward. If all law enforcement officers were truthful and not politically motivated when it comes to the safety of all neighborhoods, then you would know that all counties, blue and red, have all lacked prosecuting certain cases, be it intentional or lack of confidence or experience by some State Attorneys. Please Florida Legislators look at your laws, specific to juvenile repeat offenders of violent crimes and your so call point system. The blame is the entire system not just certain State Attorneys. It takes a lot to achieve Worrell’s status, and she should be expected to do her job, but please do not take away years of hard work on the fact that that case could not be prosecuted by her office according to what has been shared with the general public. I am a retired police officer, who had my fair share of concerns of State Attorney‘s not bringing cases forward that I believe were warranted, but I respected their decision, and trust that there was accountability to support their decision. Even though I reached the rank of lieutenant on my job, what is most important is that I am a person of faith and integrity, and I hope that those who profess to be the same will who have the authority to make decisions in removing or suspending officials will look at the facts and trust GOD in this process!!
March 1, 2023 at 8:48 pm
It seems that there were other crimes that could have & should have been prosecuted, i.e. possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
The rest of your argument is specious.
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