- State Attorney Monique Worrell is facing pointed questions from the DeSantis administration regarding internal deliberations in her office about the suspect in the recent Pine Hills shootings in which three people were killed and at least two others injured.
- DeSantis Administration General Counsel Ryan Newman sent a letter demanding all communications inside Worrell’s office pertaining to previous deliberations over Moses, both as a juvenile and as an adult.
- The letter from Newman notes that Moses has a history of prior arrests, including for offenses such as battery, burglary, and grand theft, and questions why he was allowed to remain on the streets.
The hot seat under State Attorney Monique Worrell just got a little bit hotter on Tuesday. The embattled Orlando prosecutor, under fire after the recent Pine Hills shootings in which three people were killed and at least two others injured, is now facing pointed questions from Governor Ron DeSantis’s Administration about internal deliberations in Worrell’s office about the previous criminal history of one suspect in the shootings, Keith Melvin Moses.
Adding fuel to the fire, U.S. Senator Rick Scott also weighed in yesterday with a letter of his own, which sharply criticized Worrell’s office for the tragedy.
“Let me be clear: we will not tolerate the disastrous consequences of woke, soft-on-crime agendas in Florida,” Scott wrote. “There is no reason or logic behind these philosophies, only leftist politics that continue to overpromise and underdeliver.”
But the immediate threat to Worrell comes from DeSantis Administration General Counsel Ryan Newman, who fired off a letter Tuesday to Worrell asking for extensive information about the case and about Moses’s background. DeSantis has previously shown that he won’t hesitate to remove prosecutors from their offices if he believes they aren’t doing their job, and now speculation is running rampant that Worrell may be next.
Newman specifically asked for all communications inside Worrell’s office pertaining to previous deliberations over other charges that had been filed against Moses, both as a juvenile and as an adult. The letter also notes that Moses has a history of prior arrests, including for offenses such as battery, burglary, and grand theft. Despite this, the letter says, Moses has been allowed to remain on the streets.
“The failure of your office to hold this individual accountable for his actions – despite his extensive criminal history and gang affiliation – may have permitted this dangerous individual to remain on the street. Clearly, Mr. Moses should never have been in a position to commit those senseless crimes of last week,” Newman wrote in the letter. “As we seek to learn valuable lessons from this heartbreaking event, we must determine if Mr. Moses was enabled by gaps in our sentencing laws that must be corrected, or, to be frank, your office’s failure to properly administer justice.”
In a response broadcast on Orlando’s WESH-TV today, Worrell defended her office’s actions, stating that Moses’ only recent case that occurred during her administration was a possession of marijuana charge as an adult, which was not pursued because the amount found was not tested by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
“The only person responsible for what happened last week is the individual who did it,” Worrell told WESH-TV. “We do our jobs and we take it very seriously. And to imply otherwise is absolutely shameful.”
During the interview, Worrell also highlighted concerns about comparing arrests with convictions, while criticizing the politicization of the tragedy.
The deadline for compliance with the governor’s demand for information is March 14, 2023.