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Democratic prosecutor challenges his suspension by Republican Florida Governor DeSantis

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A Florida state attorney whose suspension marks the second time Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis removed a top Democratic prosecutor over political differences is challenging the decision.

DeSantis failed to demonstrate that Monique Worrell was incompetent or negligent of duty when he suspended her last month, the former Greater Orlando area attorney general said in a petition seeking to quash the ‘order. She filed the petition Wednesday with the Supreme Court, where the DeSantis appointees make up the majority.

“The order does not allege a single instance in which Ms. Worrell’s exercise of prosecutorial discretion violated Florida law,” the petition states. “To the extent that the Governor disagrees with the manner in which Ms. Worrell legally exercises her prosecutorial discretion, such disagreement is not grounds for suspension from elective office.”

The Associated Press sent an email Thursday seeking comment to the governor’s office.

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DeSantis’ office began investigating Worrell earlier this year after 19-year-old Keith Moses was charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Spectrum News 13 reporter Dylan Lyons, Nathacha Augustin and T’ Yonna Major, 9 years old. The girl’s mother and Spectrum News 13 photographer Jesse Walden were also shot.

Shortly after the shooting, DeSantis’ general counsel said in a letter to Worrell that she did not hold Moses responsible for any crimes he allegedly committed before his death. The letter said Moses was arrested during a traffic stop in November 2021 for possession of cannabis. According to a police report, an officer witnessed a gun thrown from the window of the car as she was stopped. All three occupants wore ski masks and had previous firearms charges, including Moses, who was on probation for a misdemeanor.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office deputy charged Moses with a drug offense and not a firearms offense. The case was dropped the following month after prosecutors concluded it was not proper.

DeSantis is one of many Republicans from various jurisdictions in the United States who have questioned the decisions of Democratic prosecutors.

DeSantis last year removed Attorney Andrew Warren, a twice-elected Democrat in Tampa, after pledging not to bring criminal charges against applicants or providers of abortions or gender-transitional treatments. He also had a policy of not pressing anyone for certain minor crimes.

Worrell, who won office with two-thirds of the vote in 2020, said she would run again next year.

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