Gov. Scott takes case from anti-death penalty prosecutor

Ayala, at a news conference earlier on Thursday, said Florida's death penalty system was the cause of "legal chaos" and said she would not seek the death penalty against Markeith Loyd, charged in the January 9 shooting of the policewoman.

"I have given this issue extensive, painstaking thought and consideration", Ayala told reporters Thursday. I look forward to working with Representative Spano on a variety of criminal justice issues: "from the death penalty, to the unsafe and irresponsible Stand Your Ground legislation now pending that makes it harder to prosecute violent criminals, to cost-effective programs that increase public safety while reducing long-term recidivism".

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

'She informed me this afternoon that she refuses to do that.

"I completely disagree with State Attorney Ayala's decision and comments, and I am asking her to recuse herself immediately from this case", Scott 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.

Through an executive order, the case was handed off to State Attorney Brad King, a prosecutor in a neighboring district northwest of Orlando. Then, while on the run after killing the officer, Loyd killed an Orange County sheriff's deputy in a vehicle accident.

Ayala's decision means she will not seek death for Markeith Loyd, who is accused of a December 2016 double murder.

But Ashton said Ayala's new policy is opposite of her reaction when she was a prosecutor assigned to the case of murder suspect David Lewis Payne, a death penalty case. "He declined to explore my reasoning".

Ayala's decision "sends a unsafe message" to residents and visitors to the Orlando area and "is a blatant neglect of duty and a shameful failure to follow the law as a constitutionally elected officer", Bondi said in a prepared statement.

State and local law enforcement officials were sharply critical of Ayala's decision. "They will never continue to drain resources from this state with decades of appeals", Ayala said.

"I have seen the video of Markeith Loyd executing Lt. Debra Clayton while she lay defenseless on the ground", Mina, who drew national attention during the aftermath of the Pulse nightclub massacre previous year, said in a statement.

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

In Ayala's case, hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds - some reportedly from Soros - went right down the drain along with her position.

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. She is the first African-American state attorney elected in Florida history. "That's Florida's second death penalty statute in less than two years".

Allegheny County Judge Jeffrey Manning on Thursday found that Laurel Schlemmer's mental capacity was diminished by her illness, meaning she couldn't form the specific intent to kill that was required of the first-degree murder conviction prosecutors sought for the April 2014 killings.

Florida law does not require state attorneys to seek the death penalty. "She has an agenda", said Zaldivar, whose son's killer was sentenced to death in 2015.

Charges of acting as accessories after the fact against Zarghee Mayan and Jameis Slaughter were dropped, according to a review of an Orange County court docket.

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

If we're going to have the death penalty, then cop killers go to the head of the list.

Similarly, state Attorney General Pam Bondi, also a Republican, said it "sends a risky message" not to seek the death penalty. Mina said the heinous crimes committed by Lloyd are a prime example of why the death penalty is an option under Florida state law.

On Tuesday, the governor signed a new death penalty bill, which was crafted to stand up to those legal challenges.

"It borders on dereliction of duty", he said of Ayala's decision.

"I respect that, that's fine", he said.

Earlier in the day, though, others spoke out against the decision.

Scott said transferring the case was a matter of fighting for justice.

  • Audrey Hill