Rick Scott says suspension of Monique Worrell would likely be justified

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He supports Gov. Ron DeSantis' push for info on prosecutorial decisions around a Pine Hills murder suspect.

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott is suggesting Gov. Ron DeSantis has good reason to suspend State Attorney Monique Worrell.

“Families in Central Florida deserve accountability. That’s why I am demanding answers from State Attorney Worrell,” Scott tweeted. “If the failures we suspect are confirmed, Gov. DeSantis would be right to remove her.”

The Naples Republican, a former Governor, posted the assessment a day after DeSantis’ Office sent a letter demanding information about past cases involving a murder suspect.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office arrested 19-year-old Keith Melvin Moses, who faces three charges of first-degree murder, among other crimes. He’s the lone person suspected of killing 38-year-old Natacha Augustin, reporter Dylan Lyons and 9-year-old T’yonna Major in three separate shootings on Feb. 22.

Scott’s Office shortly after the arrest raised questions about Moses’ criminal record and known gang affiliations, and suggested the suspect should not have been on the streets.

Worrell has pushed back against criticisms from both Scott and DeSantis.

Regarding Scott, she said the Senator has yet to send his questions directly to prosecutors in the 9th Judicial Circuit about the case.

“Thanks to a member of the news media, we are also in receipt of a letter written to me by Sen. Rick Scott,” Worrell said in a statement. Florida Politics provided her the letter earlier this week.

“As of today, we have not received the letter in our office. Given that Sen. Scott didn’t send the letter to our office directly, but rather posted it on social media, the State Attorney’s office will not be responding to his request. Our office remains committed to doing everything in our power to provide justice to the families who lost loved ones or were injured in this tragic shooting.”

Officials in Scott’s office said the letter was mailed out on Tuesday before his office issued its first criticisms of the prosecutor.

Worrell did say she intends to answer all questions from the Governor’s Office in a timely fashion.

“We are working now to compile all information and records that we are legally able to provide and will send to the Governor’s office in a timely manner. As part of our response to Gov. DeSantis’ request, we will also include specific information regarding how my office is required to respond as it relates to issues of juvenile justice,” she said.

“There have been a number of misconceptions, some of which are included in the letter we received yesterday, floated by other elected officials in the aftermath of this tragedy that we are continually working to correct. The suggestions and accusations that my office’s ‘policies’ promote crime are empty political statements unsupported by actual facts.

“During my administration, the police arrested Mr. Moses on a single case — a misdemeanor possession of cannabis charge. Without evidence that conclusively proves Mr. Moses was in possession of illegal marijuana, it is simply not possible to prove a crime occurred. Therefore, my office did not pursue charges.”

Rep. Dan Webster, a Clermont Republican, echoed Scott’s call for action.

“This repeat criminal who Orange County Sheriff (John) Mina referred to as a ‘known gang member,’ has repeatedly been arrested for crimes as a juvenile and then once as an adult. Yet despite this Mr. Keith Melvin Moses was allowed to walk free,” Webster wrote in a letter to DeSantis.

“We simply cannot have criminals wandering our streets endangering the lives of innocent people because soft on crime prosecutors don’t want to prosecute crimes. I’ve cosponsored legislation that would expose prosecutors who fail the fulfill their duties so they can be held accountable. We must protect our citizens.”

There has been speculation about whether DeSantis might suspend her due to his removal of Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren. That prior move came after Warren signed a letter stating he would not prosecute individuals for violating new laws barring abortions at 15 weeks or involving gender transition treatments. Worrell also signed that letter.

The shootings in Pine Hills garnered national attention, in part because Lyons, a Spectrum News 13 journalist, was killed while covering Augustin’s murder. Photojournalist Jesse Walden was also shot in the random shooting. Police also believe the suspect had no connection to Major or her mother, who was also shot.

Worrell has told media that past arrests for Moses were for drug charges, and more strict charges could not be brought forward because police did not gather additional evidence at the scene.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Paul Passarelli

    March 2, 2023 at 11:01 am

    Great! But let’s not lose the momentum by allowing other incompetent government officials to scurry back into the shadows simply because one cockroach was caught when the lights were focused on it.

    It’s way past time to purge all of the bureaucratic incompetence from the roles of government. The people good people of the State DEMAND it.

    • Ocean Joe

      March 4, 2023 at 10:29 am

      There was a time in Florida when folks could be executed within a couple months after arrest. Read about the Groveland Four. Actually some were executed during the arrest process.
      Odd that a Connecticut Yankee wants to bring that Old South magic back, but if so, you’ve got plenty of company.

      The State attorney is not a cockroach, she was elected by the voters, she appears to have followed the law, and anybody who thinks this particular’s suspect’s killing spree was foreseeable on the misdemeanor pot charge is hallucinating.
      On the other hand, since you want everybody to have a gun, it should come as no surprise that bad actors will go rogue and slaughter innocents.

      • Paul Passarelli

        March 4, 2023 at 3:23 pm

        you wrote: “On the other hand, since you want everybody to have a gun, it should come as no surprise that bad actors will go rogue and slaughter innocents.”

        There is ample evidence that there is less violent crime in areas where gun ownership is more prevalent, and higher rates where gun ownership is institutionally discouraged by the local governments.

        But all that preves here and now is that Democrats tend to embrace the wrong and the wronger than wrong. Especially when it suits their agenda and weakens the fabric of society.

        Joe, why don’t you move to Baltimore, or Chicago or DC, or any of the 50 odd Democratic shitholes where gun ownership for law abiding citizens is almost non-existent? I bet you’ll feel a whole lot safer…

  • Earl Pitts American

    March 2, 2023 at 11:04 am

    Good Morning Rick,
    Son shut your mouth already. By using a public format (Twitter) you are basically throwing this out to leftist media and you know that. WTF is wrong with you Son?
    Now it has the appearance that you are trying to bully Ron into doing something on YOUR timeline and YOUR agenda which makes you look like a Swamp Creature Secret Back Stabber.
    Wrong Son.
    That is a phone call to Ron 100% NOT an “innocent appearing” tweet that you know 100% was going to be picked up and ran with by leftist media. Stop it right now Rick and pick up the phone and call Ron if you have any more “pearls of wisdom” to dispense.
    This may not be the correct time for Ron to address the Worrell issue and YOU KNOW IT! Stop trying to backstab Ron into making an error like his Andrew Gillum monkey it up comment. Rick you know what you did and you know the dishonorable intent in your own mind that made you do it.
    Thank You Rick,
    Earl Pitts American

    • Earl Pitts American

      March 2, 2023 at 11:38 am

      Good Morning America
      I swear I’m gonna reactivate my old baseball pitcher’s sholder injury if I have to keep taking these errant politicians to the woodshed and spanking them.
      Do better!
      Thank you America

  • ScienceBLVR

    March 2, 2023 at 11:26 am

    Yup, Ricky, so easy to point fingers without any facts. Having been on Florida DJJ committees, there is certainly a revolving door when it comes to juvenile justice and kids who commit frequent and aggressive crimes, just let back into the community with hardly any legal consequences. I think parents would be quite frightened to know the records of some of the kids sitting next to their kid in the lunchroom at school. From the sounds of it, this perp’s serious offenses took place earlier. Let’s just call this what it is.. another political move by the authoritarian right to subvert and destroy anyone who doesn’t adhere to their agenda. When did it become popular to declare war on State Attorneys? Guess Rick and Ron are getting tired of attacking teachers and schools- time for a new enemy to target.

Comments are closed.


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