Gov. DeSantis suspends State Attorney Monique Worrell

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Democrats immediately criticized the suspension as politically motivated.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has suspended Democratic State Attorney Monique Worrell. He appointed judge Andrew Bain to the office in her stead.

“I trust that he will be a prosecutor that faithfully enforces the law,” DeSantis said.

Rumors have swirled for months that DeSantis would suspend Worrell, who has already filed for re-election. The Governor took the action in the wake of a series of Pine Hills shootings that left three dead in February. That prompted scrutiny from DeSantis’ Office and calls for Worrell’s job by U.S. Sen. Rick Scott.

Worrell won election as State Attorney in Florida’s 9th Judicial Circuit in 2020 and recently announced she would seek a second term in 2024.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office arrested 19-year-old Keith Melvin Moses on Feb. 22. He faces three charges of first-degree murder following the killings of 38-year-old Natacha Augustin, broadcast news reporter Dylan Lyons and 8-year-old T’yonna Major in three separate shootings. Moses, who also faces two attempted murder charges connected to two other victims, has pleaded not guilty. A grand jury in March indicted Moses on the charges.

Worrell’s Office has come under fire for the fact Moses was on the streets at the time of the shooting.

The suspension also took place just after a police say Daton Viel shot and critically injured to Orlando police officers. Viel died in a shootout with police, but had run-ins with police in the past, and Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd publicly asserted that was in part because Worrell’s office did not ask for a pre-trial in a case against Viel, according to reporting by Fox 35,

An executive order specifically takes Worrell to task on seeking mandatory minimum sentences on crimes involving firearms. It notes the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office referred 58 non-homicide robbery with a firearm cases to prosecutors in 2021 and 2022. But as of May, only one of those cases resulted in a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years.

The order also notes the judicial circuit had one of the lowest prison admission rates in the state for robbery with a weapon, armed burglary and weapons possession.

“Worrell’s practices or policies of avoiding minimum mandatory sentences for gun crimes not only defies the expressed will of the Florida Legislature, it also subjects the residents of Orange and Osceola Counties and surrounding areas to increased risk of harm as violent criminals in the community are too often left on the streets or prematurely returned to the streets to cause, further violence and mischief,” the order reads.

As recently as last week, Worrell stood alongside Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried at a political event. She told Florida Politics at the time that she had no knowledge if any investigation of her record was still underway by the Governor.

Democrats immediately criticized the suspension as politically motivated.

“This is absolutely disgusting — State Attorney Monique Worrell is a duly elected official and the only Black woman serving as State Attorney in Florida right now. Her removal is a complete slap in the face to Orange and Osceola County residents and another example of Gov. DeSantis eroding our local control and democracy,” said state Rep. Anna Eskamani, an Orlando Democrat.

“This politically motivated action by the Governor in a predominantly Democratic part of the state should alarm everyone. DeSantis is extreme, unfit to serve, and must be held accountable.”

Ryan Newman, General Counsel to DeSantis, sent a letter to Worrell’s Office seeking information about the past treatment of Moses. It noted an arrest as recently as Nov. 12, 2021, where an arrest affidavit noted Moses’ history of attempted murder and robbery charges. Police also noted the presence of ski masks when he and two others were arrested.

“Tragically, despite the clear threat that Mr. Moses posed to our community, you apparently made the decision not to pursue charges against him,” Newman’s letter stated.

The Governor’s Office also sought information on the broader treatment by the office of felony and probation violation arrests for individuals with prior records.

Many viewed the inquiries as laying the groundwork for a suspension.

Worrell has pushed back on any allegations her office was soft on crime.

Worrell told Spectrum News 13, murder victim Lyons’ employer, shortly after the shooting that criticisms were politically motivated.

“Any implication that my office does not prosecute cases is not based in fact,” she said. “Since January, we have prosecuted close to 3,000 cases, and that is since January of this year. Thirty-five jury trials have taken place. Several of those have resulted in life sentences, so not only do we prosecute cases, we take violent crime very seriously.”

DeSantis notably suspended Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren in August after the Democrat said he did not intend to prosecute anyone under the state’s new 15-week abortion ban. Warren is contesting the legality of that action in federal court.

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].


  • My Take

    August 9, 2023 at 9:23 am

    A black woman . . . big surprise.
    But he and Trump already have the bigot votes.

  • Whites Only

    August 9, 2023 at 9:33 am

    Florida isn’t safe for Blacks and Jews (or women, frankly) to live or work.

  • Earl Pitts American

    August 9, 2023 at 9:38 am

    Good mornting America,
    We considered making Worrell exume little 8 year old T’yonna’s remains and bringing the baby’s parents into the mortuary for Worrell to explain her self, over the open casket, to the baby’s parents.
    But we deemed that a little too harsh on the baby’s parents and just went with the suspension as we did with our widely popular suspensuon of that other Dook 4 Brains State Attorney Warren.
    It is so very sick and perverted to observe other leftists rallying around Worrell.
    Thank you America,

    • “Suspensuon” of people elected by a majority isn’t actually “popular”!

      August 9, 2023 at 9:51 am

      You mean the “widely popular” Warren who was elected by the voters in his jurisdiction, right?

  • Michael K

    August 9, 2023 at 9:53 am

    Reeking of desperation, DeSantis will destroy anyone and anything to garner another cheap headline.

    • My Take

      August 9, 2023 at 10:02 am

      Woke Won.
      DeSSgustus in freefall.
      Grasping at any hold.

  • Joe

    August 9, 2023 at 10:31 am

    This is a small, petty, desperate pipsqueak of a man. Congrats again Florida GQP voters.

  • Cowardly Desantis

    August 9, 2023 at 10:58 am

    Another cowardly move from our lame duck, never gonna be president, terrible governor.

  • Suze

    August 9, 2023 at 10:59 am

    DICKtator….Florida can become part of Cuba..

  • Earl Pitts "The Big Voice On The Right" American

    August 9, 2023 at 10:59 am

    Good mornting again America,
    As you can see from the comentary, Dook 4 Brains Leftists, are not accustomed to responding to me, Earl Pitts “The Big Voice On The Right” American.
    I know we here at our beloved and benevolant host F. P. have around 67% conservative daily readership. So shout out to all of you on the “Silent Majority”. I also know that 65% of you on the conservative “Silent Majority” are too chickin $HlT to comment here at our beloved host F. P.
    That is OK as I understand your reluctance with the left being as bat $HlT crazy as they are and have been in the past 20 -30 years.
    I, Earl Pitts American speak for you.
    Have a great day everyone,

  • tom palmer

    August 9, 2023 at 12:35 pm

    DeSantis’ 40-page justification for the suspension never explains how the State Attorney’s office is responsible for the actions of judges and juries, who are the ones who render verdicts and decide whether people out to go to jail and for how long. A good example possible misuse of statistics for political purposes.

  • My Take

    August 10, 2023 at 12:25 am

    I think there is a simple underlying answer to many of the questions.
    DeSSantis is scum.
    Racist scum, sure.
    But “Ron=№1” scum for sure.

Comments are closed.


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