- Andrew Warren told reporters Thursday his office had DNA evidence linking two men to 1983 murders.
- Warren, a Democrat, was suspended earlier in the day by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
- Warren's office previously helped free a man who was falsely convicted of one of the 1983 killings.
A Florida prosecutor said Thursday that his office had identified a pair of potential serial killers connected to at least two cold cases involving the rape and murder of young women.
The announcement came just hours after Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended the state attorney, Andrew Warren, from office for having a "woke" agenda.
At an afternoon press conference, scheduled prior to his removal, Warren said DNA evidence from a wrongful conviction led investigators to the men, both of whom are currently incarcerated for another murder, WFLA reported.
Two years earlier, that same DNA evidence had helped free another man, Robert DuBoise, who spent 37 years behind bars after being falsely convicted of the 1983 rape and murder of a teenager, Barbara Grams, based on the testimony of a jailhouse informant. DuBoise was to be put to death before Florida's Supreme Court vacated the sentence.
Speaking Thursday, Warren said the discovery of DuBoise's wrongful conviction set the stage for justice to be served in two cases: the murder of Grams and another cold case from the same year — the rape and murder of Linda Lansen.
"It's extremely rare for exonerations to be followed by the prosecution of the actual perpetrators," Warren said, per WFLA. "We now know that these two men carried out a sinister spree of rape and murder in Tampa Bay in the summer and fall of 1983."
The men were indicted Thursday by a grand jury, Warren said. Both are also linked to other cold cases, he added.
A Democrat, Warren was first elected in 2016 and reelected in 2020. But earlier on Thursday, DeSantis, a Republican, asserted that Warren was not serving his constituents, citing his unwillingness to prosecute Black Lives Matter protesters and stated refusal to prosecute those who violate Florida's contested abortion law, which generally prohibits the termination of a pregnancy after 15 weeks.
"I don't think the people of Hillsborough County want to have an agenda that is basically woke when your view of social justice is that certain laws shouldn't be enforced," the governor said.
DeSantis selected a local judge, Susan Lopez — an alum of the conservative Federalist Society, The Miami Herald reported, who he appointed to the Hillsborough County courts in 2021 — to serve in Warren's place. It is not clear how long the suspension will last.
Warren protested the suspension as an "illegal overreach" by DeSantis, saying the governor — who is up for reelection and is rumored to have presidential ambitions — is "using his office to further his own political ambition."
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