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Florida DeSantis targets prosecutor after TV crew assault

Florida DeSantis targets prosecutor after TV crew assault

Orlando, Fla. (AP) – After firing a Democratic prosecutor, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is taking another look at how he handled cases involving a TV reporter, a 9-year-old girl and a woman accused of fatally shooting him. Week.

DeSantis’ general counsel earlier this week sent a letter to State Attorney Monique Worrell seeking documents and emails regarding prior arrest and prosecution decisions involving 19-year-old Keith Moses, both as a juvenile and as an adult. Juvenile records are generally kept private in Florida.

The request from the governor’s office comes as DeSantis battles against “woke” prosecutors, bolstering his conservative criminal justice platform ahead of an expected run for president.

DeSantis fired state attorney Andrew Warren, a twice-elected Democrat, last year in Tampa for signing his pledges that he would not pursue criminal charges against seekers or providers of abortion or gender transition treatments. , as well as policies about not bringing charges for some low-level crimes.

An attorney for the slain girl’s families and the reporter said DeSantis and Republican US Sen. Rick Scott, who has also scrutinized Worrell over Moses’ criminal history, appear to be exploiting the deaths for their political agenda.

“The families believe that all of this smacks of political opportunism by both DeSantis and Scott, and it is appalling to them,” attorney Mark Negem said at a news conference Thursday in Orlando.

During the press conference, the family members cried hugging each other. He described the victims, respectively, as a kind storyteller and a little girl with a big heart who loved gymnastics.

“I’m going to miss her so much! She was the best little girl!” Tayona Major’s mother, Brandi Major, was sobbing before leaving the room after being overwhelmed with emotion.

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Gary Lyons, the father of Spectrum News 13 reporter Dylan Lyons, said he was “shocked” that neither DeSantis nor Scott “took 30 seconds out of their time” to reach out to their families to say how they felt about their loss. sorry for He said the family has heard from other political leaders.

In a letter to Worrell, whose jurisdiction covers the Orlando area, DeSantis General Counsel Ryan Newman said his office had failed to hold Moses accountable, “despite his extensive criminal history and gang affiliation.”

The letter mentions that Moses was arrested in November 2021 during a traffic stop for possession of cannabis. According to a police report, a deputy saw a gun being thrown out the window of the car as it was being pulled over. All three occupants had ski masks and previous firearm charges, including Moses, who was on juvenile delinquency probation.

An Orange County Sheriff’s Office deputy charged Moses with a drug offense, not a firearms offense. The case was dismissed the following month after prosecutors concluded that it was not fit to proceed.

Newman’s letter stated, “Moses should never have been in a position to commit those senseless crimes of last week.”

In response, Worrell said the letter from the governor’s office was full of misconceptions. Worrell said there was not conclusive evidence that Moses was in illegal possession of marijuana.

“Suggestions and allegations that my office’s ‘policies’ encourage crime are empty political statements unsupported by actual facts,” Worrell said in a statement.

Moses is facing three first-degree murder charges for last week’s fatal shootings of Lyons, Major and Nathacha Augustin. Also shot was the girl’s mother and Spectrum News 13 photographer Jesse Walden.

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In his executive order suspending Warren, the Tampa prosecutor, DeSantis cited state law that allows him to remove officers for dereliction of duty and inefficiency.

Warren has said that the subpoenas are for personal political positions and that her office enforces prosecutorial discretion as to whether or not to press charges in all cases. He has launched a legal battle in federal and state court to get his job back.

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