Florida Prosecutor Suspends Use of Death Penalty

Florida Prosecutor Suspends Use of Death Penalty

Florida Prosecutor Suspends Use of Death Penalty

At least one of the other 19 state attorneys publicly supported Ayala's right not to seek the death penalty: Hillsborough's Andrew Warren. Loyd had been a wanted fugitive since December 13 when he was accused of killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Sade Dixon, 24, and wounding her brother. She added that she had given the issue "extensive, painstaking" consideration.

Ayala argued during the courthouse press conference that seeking the death penalty would prove extremely costly and not beneficial to public safety.

Ayala did win praise from death penalty opponents who say that the move challenges the racial and socioeconomic disparities associated with capital punishment.

In response, Scott signed an executive order yanking Ayala from the case and reassigning it to State Attorney Brad King of Florida's 5th Judicial District.

Ayala "has made it clear that she will not fight for justice", Scott said in a statement announcing his reassignment of the case to King, who is based in Ocala and has been the circuit's chief prosecutor for almost three decades.

The unusual and firm stance against capital punishment by State Attorney Aramis Ayala in Orlando surprised and angered many law enforcement officials, including the city's police chief, who believed suspect Markeith Loyd should face the possibility of execution.

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"She has made it abundantly clear that she will not fight for justice for Lt. Debra Clayton and our law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every day", the governor said.

State Rep. Bob Cortes (R-Fla.) and Orange County Sherrif Jerry Demings were among the many noted public officials to come forward and express opposition to Ayala's decision. It's remarkable among prosecutors both for the political risk it opens up for Ayala but also for the fact that this isn't even a case where there's a lot of ambiguity that causes folks to question the application of the death penalty. "He declined to explore my reasoning".

"The heinous crimes that he committed in our community are the very reason that we have the death penalty as an option under the law", said Orlando Police Chief John Mina.

After her announcement, Florida Gov. Rick Scott immediately requested that Ayala recuse herself from the case.

Scott can not unilaterally kick a constitutional officer like Ayala out of office.

Ayala told reporters that she understands that members of the law enforcement community may be upset.

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WESH 2's research of law review articles from Ayala's law school, articles that she has written for the local and national bar associations and her syllabus from a class that she taught at FAMU reveal no prior opinions of any kind about capital punishment, leaving some to wonder exactly when she chose to oppose it.

There are valid reasons lawmakers should consider abolishing the death penalty, but that's their call.

"I don't think it's appropriate to say that there is never a time to use the death penalty", Dyer said.

However, state attorneys have discretion under the law to determine how to pursue cases, including whether or not to seek the death penalty.

"Don't let that death go in vain", said Marino. A trial is expected to begin in June, according to Orange County court records.

"She was elected to make these types of decisions", he said.

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The Sunshine State's death penalty sentencing scheme was on unstable ground after the U.S. Supreme Court found the sentencing law unconstitutional because it allowed judges to have the ultimate decision instead of a jury.

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