ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The judge who presided over the Casey Anthony murder trial is running for the Orange-Osceola state attorney, according to filings with the state of Florida.
According to the Florida Division of Elections, Belvin Perry Jr. filed to run for the Ninth Judicial State Attorney on Thursday. This comes after the current state attorney for the district, Aramis Ayala, said she would not run for re-election this year.
In 1989, Perry became the first African-American to be elected to the circuit bench of the Ninth Circuit without first being appointed. He served as a judge for 25 years in Osceola County and nine terms as chief judge of the Ninth Judicial Circuit.
Perry presided over Anthony’s trial in 2011. She was acquitted on murder charges in connection with the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee Anthony.
In May 2019, Perry told News 6 that he was considering running for top prosecutor. He said the state attorney’s office has been “drifting” for a few years so, if elected, his No. 1 priority would be restoring public confidence in the office.
“More than likely I will try cases. I’ve always enjoyed the courtroom. To be frank though, the first couple of months will be spent mending fences and reorganizing that office and making sure it is running like a Swiss watch,” Perry said.
He said the office needs new leadership and new direction.
Perry is adding his name to the growing number of candidates seeking the top prosecutor position in Central Florida.
Deborah Barra, a current assistant state attorney in Orange-Osceola, criminal defense attorney Kevin Morenski, and Ryan Williams, a longtime assistant state attorney in Florida’s 9th and 5th Judicial Circuits, have all announced they are running.
Barra released a statement Thursday after news broke of Perry’s candidacy.
“While I respect Mr. Perry, it’s been more than 30 years since he has worked as a prosecutor. Our community shouldn’t look to the past; we need to focus on the future. With my prosecutorial and managerial experience, I am the only candidate who knows what it will take to get the job done and bring justice to crime victims,” she said.
Williams also responded to the news.
“I’m running for State Attorney because I know my energy and passion are necessary to restore credibility and integrity to the office. I respect Judge Perry and his 50 years of service to the community, but he is not a long-term solution for our community’s safety. I’m betting voters are ready to look forward, not back, in this important moment, and I am excited for the opportunity to prove I am right,” he said.
Thursday night, a fiery Perry blasted Williams and Barra for suggesting he was too old for the job.
“If the people are happy with the current policies of the Ayala administration, they can vote for Ms. Barra,” Perry told News 6.
Perry said he liked Williams but argued, “he does not have my experience or leadership ability.”
Perry said his decision to run was influenced by the community and law enforcement supporting his bid.
“Examine their records in terms of leadership,” Perry said. “I challenge them to look at what they’ve done versus my record.”
Perry said he loves this community and that’s why he wants to run.
“I’m the right candidate for the job,” he said.