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State Attorney Worrell Defends Her Office’s Dropped Charges in Jones High School Shooting

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State Attorney Monique Worrell gives a press update in her office in Downtown Orlando Wednesday, March 22, 2023. Photo: J. Willie David III/Florida National News.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – Another real-life episode of Law & Order unfolded during State Attorney Monique Worrell’s press conference at her office Wednesday.

Worrell provided a detailed explanation for why her office has chosen not to prosecute the 17-year-old suspect in the shooting at outside a Jones High School football game that resulted in 19-year-old Gamaine Brown losing his life on November 12, 2022. She shared that her office couldn’t prosecute in the case due to insufficient evidence for a second degree murder charge.

She said the witness that spoke with law enforcement evidently didn’t recognize the suspect when shown a picture of him and, since the suspect was wearing a mask at the time, could only be identified by his clothes, but the witness’s description of what the suspect wore didn’t match the clothing the suspect was actually wearing on the night in question.

“The witness identified the shooter by a nickname that was different from the nickname that the suspect who was arrested went by,” Worrell explained. “The witness did not know the person she identified, and she had never before seen their face. Complicating matters, at the time of the shooting, the person who shot and killed Mr. Brown was wearing a mask. So, the witness must have only been identifying the shooter by their clothing,” she said.

“Although we deal with tragedy on a daily basis in our office, I can’t begin to imagine the pain that Mr. Brown’s family is dealing with right now, especially given the circumstances of the deal of their child,” Worrell said.

“I spoke with Mr. Brown’s father recently, personally, to explain our office’s decision and to encourage him that we are still willing to work with the Orlando Police Department regarding the prosecution of any suspect that is presented to us,” she said.

She also referenced her initial comments on OPD’s handling of the case and said she regrets the harshness of her criticism.

Orlando Police Chief Eric Smith issued a statement on Tuesday in response to Worrell’s initial remarks about the case.

“It is both disappointing and disheartening to see the unfair criticism coming from the State Attorney’s Office regarding the hard work of our detectives pursuing justice for the victims and their families in this case,” Smith said in his statement.

“It is difficult to obtain and maintain witness cooperation in a homicide case. In this case, we had one witness willing to come forward and received zero tips to Crimeline. It is troubling that the State Attorney’s office released active and detailed investigative information that has hindered this ongoing investigation,” Smith said. “At no point did we say this investigation was over.”

Worrell said that her office finally nailed down dates to meet with the other law enforcement agencies for training on “building better cases”: April 13th and 14th.

“Our goal is to work collaboratively with our law enforcement officers for the safety of our community,” she said.

Central Florida News

Senator Marco Rubio Endorses Debbie Mayfield for Florida House District 32

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Senator Marco Rubio released the following statement endorsing Debbie Mayfield for Florida House District 32. Mayfield kicked off her campaign with an endorsement from President Donald Trump, and last week announced Agriculture Commissioner Simpson’s endorsement.
“Debbie Mayfield has stood on the front lines fighting for common sense conservative Florida values, unafraid to take on the establishment and unapologetic in her pursuit of less government and more freedom. I proudly endorse Debbie for the Florida House because I know she will continue to fight for the hard working families and job creators of Brevard County.”

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Central Florida News

Representative Susan Valdés Opens Doors for Puerto Rican Citizens to Access Vital Documents in the Tampa Bay Area

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TAMPA, Fla. Representative Susan L. Valdés (D- Tampa) is continuing an initiative aimed at easing access to essential government documents for Puerto Rican citizens residing in the Tampa Bay area. On May 20th, Representative Valdés will host the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA) at her district office, continuing a temporary setup to provide constituent services to the Puerto Rican community in Tampa.

This marks the fifth event of a concerted effort between Representative Valdés and PRFAA. The PRFAA temporary office will offer assistance in obtaining vital documents, including birth, marriage, death, and Administration for Child Support (ASUME) certificates, as well as drivers records, and apostille services, streamlining the process for those in need. The Government of Puerto Rico invalidated all Puerto Rican birth certificates issued prior to July 1, 2010, and is replacing them with more secure versions.

“As we head into the summer months, a time where many individuals and families travel, it is important to have your essential government documents for boarding cruises, obtaining passports, and more. I am proud to continue this partnership with PRFAA and ease access for our community,” said Representative Valdés.

Building on PRFAA’s commitment to serving Puerto Ricans across the United States, this collaboration echoes the recent establishment of their full-time office in Kissimmee, Florida. The initiative represents a significant step in extending these vital services to the Tampa Bay area.

The event is scheduled to be held at Representative Valdés‘ district office, located at 2221 N Himes Ave, Suite B, Tampa, FL 33607, on May 20th, 2024, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. for placing orders. The orders will be processed and the official documents will be ready for pick up on May 24th. For more information regarding the services offered and to book an appointment please go the PRFAA’s website: https://prfaafl.simplybook.me/v2/ or by calling the district office at 813-673-4673.

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Central Florida News

Gilzean Proposes $1M for Voter Outreach and Cybersecurity

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Orange County Supervisor of Elections, Glen Gilzean speaks to black voters at Orlando City Commissioner District 5 Candidates Forum at Jones High School, Thursday, May 9, 2024. Photo by J Willie David, III / Florida National News

[Orange County, Florida, May 9, 2024] – Orange County Supervisor of Elections, Glen Gilzean, unveils a groundbreaking budget that not only boosts voter outreach and education but also strengthens cybersecurity to ensure election integrity. Recognizing the growing threat of cyber-attacks on election infrastructure, Supervisor Gilzean has allocated a significant portion of the budget to implementing robust cybersecurity measures designed to protect voter data and safeguard election processes.

Supervisor Gilzean aims to set a new standard for electoral efficiency and transparency, underpinned by a comprehensive approach to community engagement and fiscal responsibility. “Our democracy thrives when every voice is heard, and every vote counts,” stated Supervisor Gilzean. “By investing in outreach and education initiatives, we empower our citizens to actively participate in the democratic process. Thanks to local input from the community, we present a budget that honors taxpayers and increases opportunities for more citizens to access their right to vote. This budget enhances voter engagement while delivering significant savings for Orange County taxpayers.”

To address the growing threats of cyber-attacks and data breaches, the proposed budget includes key investments in advanced cybersecurity technologies, including firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and data encryption. This step underscores the priority Orange County places on protecting the integrity of its elections and ensuring that voter data remains secure.

Community leaders demonstrate the support for Supervisor Gilzean’s budget proposal:

Ms. Rose Morris, President of Apopka Progressive Seniors Club, said, “Many seniors like myself have fought hard to secure the right to vote, and I’m glad to see that Supervisor Gilzean is investing in voter education and outreach. By ensuring every vote is counted and every voice is heard, he is honoring the legacy of those who fought for democracy and making it easier for everyone to participate.”

Pastor Jimmy Siberio, Iglesia Oasis, remarked, “By investing in cybersecurity, Supervisor Gilzean is ensuring that every vote is protected. The focus on bilingual community outreach—in both English and Spanish—demonstrates a commitment to making sure that all members of our community are informed and engaged in the democratic process.”

Pastor Hezekiah Bradford Jr., President of Ministerial Alliance, commented, “This budget shows that Supervisor Gilzean is serious about protecting our votes and our voices. The investment in cybersecurity ensures that we can trust the system, and the increase in voter education means more people from our communities will be informed and engaged.”

The proposed budget by Supervisor Glen Gilzean marks a pivotal moment in Orange County’s electoral landscape, setting a precedent for effective governance, community involvement, and fiscal prudence. As the budget proposal moves forward for consideration and approval, Supervisor Gilzean remains steadfast in his commitment to advancing democracy, transparency, and accountability in Orange County.

 

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