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Last Thursday, Florida state prosecutor Aramis Ayala, ignoring the state’s law, publicly stated she would never seek the death penalty for criminals.
The first defendant affected by Ayala’s decision is Markeith Loyd, charged with the slayings of his pregnant ex-girlfriend and an Orlando police officer, whom he shot execution style.
Gov. Rick Scott immediately ordered Ayala, state attorney for the 9th Judicial Circuit, to recuse herself from cases that could impose the death penalty, but she defied him, prompting him to appoint a special prosecutor.
On Monday, Ayala blustered that Scott had “overstepped his bounds” by removing her, and subtly warned she might confront him in court. The Washington Post gleefully reported, “A letter to Scott signed by more than 100 law professionals, including two former Florida Supreme Court justices, argued the governor’s order was ‘troubling’ and ‘sets a dangerous precedent.’”
In January 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the state’s death-sentencing process; in response, Florida legislators rewrote the penalty statute twice to satisfy the Supreme Court. The second version was signed into law by Scott last week.
Ayala pontificated, “Florida’s death penalty has been the cause of considerable legal chaos, uncertainty and turmoil,” claiming that the process prolonged closure for the families of victims
Ayala’s campaign to become the first African-American state attorney in Florida was funded by George Soros; she never stated her position on the death penalty during the campaign, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Orlando Police Chief John Mina blasted Ayala, telling the Orlando Sentinel it was “disappointing” that she might appeal Scott’s order, and adding, “When someone commits this type of crime and this type of act, there needs to be the appropriate punishment, and anything short of the death penalty, in my mind, is not the appropriate punishment.”