Ex-candidate endorses Jeff Ashton in race for state attorney

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - The heated race for state attorney for Orange and Osceola counties continued on Monday.

Current candidate and former Casey Anthony prosecutor Jeff Ashton held a joint news conference with former candidate Ryan Williams.

Williams dropped out of the race on Friday and announced on Monday that he's endorsing Ashton because of a high-profile murder case.

Both former prosecutors, the two blasted their former boss, incumbent State Attorney Lawson Lamar, for what they say is a lack of leadership at the office that leads poorly trained, overworked attorneys.

The pair pointed to the recent brutal murders of two teens along the Cady Way Trail near Winter Park. Williams questioned comments that Lamar made about crimes the victims allegedly committed before they were killed.

"When confronted with the institutional failure that resulted in the death of two young men, Mr. Lamar hung responsibility on others," said Williams.

"The man who says he focuses on victim-centered crime blamed victims for their own death to avoid responsibility for political gain. Confronted with Mr. Lamars concept of leadership, it's clear to me that I must do everything in my power to make sure he is no longer the state attorney," Ashton said.

Minutes later, Lamar also held a news conference where he received the endorsement of York Jeager, another former candidate in the race.

"I just saw two young men trash a good man, who before they were even a glitch in their daddy's eye he was serving his country in Vietnam," said Jeager.

Jeager said Lamar's 24 years at the State Attorney's Office and his time as Orange County sheriff show he has the leadership to continue as state attorney.

"My place is not to satisfy my ego in the courtroom, but to run 145 lawyers," said Lamar.

Lamar said he believes the job is about leadership, using relationships he's forged over 24 years as state attorney to make his circuit safer.