ORLANDO, Fla. - Ryan Williams, who dropped out of the race for Orange-Osceola state attorney last week, endorsed one of his former rivals former prosecutor Jeff Ashton, just after Lawson Lamar criticized him on his handling of the Cady Way murders.
Both Williams and Ashton had taken on their former boss, who is seeking his fifth term in office.
Williams, the least-known and longest of shots in the race, ended his candidacy last week. Williams said he was endorsing Ashton because his former colleague's long career shows an "understanding of what successful, ethical prosecution requires."
Williams cited his unhappiness with comments Lamar made on Local 6 anchor Lauren Rowe's Flashpoint program, which Williams said sounded as if Lamar were blaming, in part, the victims of a double murder because they had previously engaged in criminal activity.
"The two young men who were murdered were burglarizing, selling stolen weapons to very dangerous people. They put themselves in line for getting into trouble," Lamar said. "We think they're probably involved in armed robberies."
Lamar continued, discussing his relationship with Nic Presha's father, Bernie Presha.
"The father of one of the young men - the only juvenile - was one of my investigators and a friend of mine for over 20 years. A terrible thing to have happen," Lamar told Lauren Rowe. "That boy was out of control. He was dealing with people who could and will kill you. And of us would have realized by looking at someone like that, I'm into risky business. They knew it. They were selling stolen guns. So it happened. It's tragic."
Lamar went on to say the assistant state attorney who made the plea deal failed to talk to a supervisor, and that with 88,000 cases in his office, not all of them are going to be "perfectly handled."
Ashton took the endorsement opportunity on Monday to talk about the 'Flashpoint' interview at a news conference.
"I ask you to go back and watch that interview with Flashpoint where he talks about the Cady Way murders and ask them, 'Is that man fighting for the victims or is he fighting for himself?'" Ashton said.
For his part, Lamar also on Monday trotted out the endorsement of Joerg Jaeger, a former Lamar fundraiser and supporter who had claimed he was going to run as a Republican before deciding not to qualify as a candidate. Jaeger's erstwhile campaign appeared to be more of a strategy to help Lamar, whom he wound up endorsing Monday.
Lamar held a news conference directly after Ashton, but didn't comment on the Cady Way Trail murders.
Because no Republican or write-in candidate has qualified, the August 14 Democratic primary will be open to all voters in the two counties and will determine who wins the office.
Ashton also appeared on 'Flashpoint' just before Lamar. You can watch his episode by clicking here.
You can also watch Lamar's full 'Flashpoint' episode by clicking here.
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