Gov. reassigns case after prosecutor refuses death penalty

Death Off Table For Accused Cop Killer

After Aramis Ayala, the state prosecutor for the Orlando area, said Thursday that she would not seek any death sentences, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, R, lashed out and called for her to withdraw from the Loyd case.

State Attorney Aramis Ayala on Thursday said she had chose to no longer seek the death penalty in first-degree murder cases after conducting a review.

While Scott's decision to remove Ayala from the case bolstered his belief in the death penalty and gained praise by some, others praised Ayala for refusing to seek capital punishment. After she refused, Scott reassigned Loyd's case to 5th Circuit State Attorney Brad King, he said in a statement.

Signaling he wants the January 9 killing of Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton prosecuted as a capital case, Gov. Scott transferred the first-degree murder case of suspect Markeith Loyd out of the office of State Attorney Aramis Ayala. Loyd was accused of murdering girlfriend Sade Dixon in December and Orlando police officer Debra Clayton when she tried to arrest him in January. She was gunned downed after police say she encountered Loyd at a Walmart store off John Young Parkway. The US Supreme Court ruled in January 2016 that the state's death penalty process was unconstitutional, and the state's high court ruled against a proposed fix to that law late past year.

"Each State Attorney, including Ms. Ayala, after careful and meticulous evaluation, has the full, legal discretion to determine for his or her jurisdiction, whether to employ this ultimate sanction", he said.

"She was given no chance to live".

Dusty Ray Spencer, who was convicted of stabbing his wife to death in 1991, is among 22 inmates from Orange and Osceola counties now awaiting lethal injection in the state's death chamber.

State and local law enforcement officials were sharply critical of Ayala's decision.

The death penalty, Dixon-Daniels said, will not bring her daughter back and will cause an exhausting journey through the court system.

Ayala stated Thursday that she does not believe the death penalty improves public safety for citizens or law enforcement officers.

Ayala didn't run on an anti-death penalty platform when she campaigned, since at the time Florida's death penalty law was in question after the U.S. Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional. "I urge her to consider the wishes of the victims' families and try these cases with death as the penalty".

He said with or without the death penalty, Loyd would still die in prison, if convicted.

Then, this bombshell on Thursday: "I will not be seeking death penalties in cases handled in my office".

Sentencing someone to death in Florida costs roughly $2.5 million more than a life sentence of 40 years (the average age of Florida's death row inmates when they commit their crime is about 30), Ayala said, citing figures from the American Bar Association. She was a prosecutor in the state attorney's office for Orange and Osceola counties for about two years before she made a decision to seek the top job. The US Supreme Court ruled in January 2016 that the state's death penalty process was unconstitutional, and the state's high court ruled against a proposed fix to that law late past year.

Ayala's decision infuriated other state officials, including Attorney General Pam Bondi, drew harsh criticism from law-enforcement organizations and prompted some legislators to call for her ouster. He had already met with and built a rapport with the Ayala's team, and was concerned about the lack of closure that might come with a death penalty conviction, which could drag on for years in the appeals process.

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