ORLANDO, Fla. – The shooting of two Orlando police officers was the most recent “major controversy” involving Orange-Osceola State Attorney Monique Worrell that led to her suspension, according to Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Daton Viel, who investigators said shot and wounded the two officers Friday night, was arrested in March on accusations of raping a 14-year-old girl.
Although Viel was on supervised probation at the time of that arrest for crimes he previously committed in Florida and Georgia, a judge authorized Viel to be released from jail on a $125,250 bond while awaiting trial on sexual battery and molestation charges.
“He was still let out on bond, and then tragically shot two Orlando police officers,” DeSantis said during a Wednesday morning news conference announcing Worrell’s suspension.
The Orlando Police Department SWAT team killed Viel Saturday morning during a shootout inside a hotel, investigators said.
According to Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, Worrell should have filed court papers at the time of Viel’s arrest to alert the judge of Viel’s prior criminal history and request that he be held in custody without bond.
“Under the Rules of Criminal Procedure and under the statutes of Florida, in order for a dangerous criminal to be detained pretrial, the state attorney has to file a motion for pretrial detention,” Moody said. “That was never done.”
But Worrell said Wednesday that her office cannot file a motion for pretrial detention until law enforcement provides the state attorney with details about the defendant’s criminal history.
“Law enforcement, if you read the statute, is tasked with notifying the state of any information that would justify a pretrial detention,” Worrell said. “And that never happened in this case. There was no notification from law enforcement.”
Today we mourn the loss of democracy. I am the duly-elected State Attorney for the Ninth Judicial Circuit. Nothing done by a weak dictator can change that. This is an outrage. I will not be bullied by DeSantis or used as a tool in his failing and disastrous presidential campaign. pic.twitter.com/OVn4E1v54p— Monique H. Worrell (@MoniqueHWorrell) August 9, 2023
At the time Viel was arrested for rape, records show he was under the supervision of the Florida Department of Corrections while serving probation for prior crimes he committed in Florida and Georgia.
Offenders who are arrested for new crimes while serving probation are often at risk of their probation being revoked and potentially being returned to custody.
The day after Viel’s rape arrest, FDOC officials attempted to get Viel’s probation revoked by filing paperwork in a criminal trespassing case that occurred in Orange County, court records show.
But an Orange County circuit court judge dismissed the probation violation because the rape occurred months before Viel was placed on probation in the trespassing case.
It remains unclear if or when FDOC officials may have attempted to alert authorities in Georgia that Viel’s rape arrest may have violated his probation in that state. The agency has not responded to questions submitted by email from News 6.
Georgia court records show a judge in Clayton County issued a warrant for Viel’s arrest related to his probation on May 3, more than two weeks after Viel was released from jail on bond.
At the time of Viel’s release from jail, FDOC officials placed the probationer on electronic monitoring with a GPS bracelet, court records show.
Although FDOC presumably had the ability to locate Viel by GPS, Viel was not immediately arrested on the Georgia warrant.
On June 13, nearly six weeks after the Georgia arrest warrant was issued, FDOC officials learned Viel had cut off his electronic monitoring device and moved out of his aunt’s Apopka home without notifying his probation officer, court records show.
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