Hours after calling on a State Attorney to recuse herself from a high-profile first-degree murder case because she declared she would no longer seek the death penalty, Gov. Rick Scott has removed her from the case.
The father of one of Loyd's victims told Fox 35 Orlando that he was concerned the family would not fully receive closure in the case if prosecutor's go for the death penalty.
That decision sparked immediate disapproval, including from Gov. Rick Scott, who has asked the prosecutor in the case to recuse herself. "She has made it clear that she will not fight for justice and that is why I am using my executive authority to immediately reassign the case to State Attorney Brad King". She spoke at a news conference outside the Orange County Court along with other supporters of State Attorney Aramis Ayala's decision.
Deputy Chief Robert Anzueto said that Ayala's decision "has law enforcement nationwide questioning her actions, " and said members of the Orlando Police Department are in "total disagreement" with her. She was killed by an evil murderer who did not think twice about senselessly ending her life. The county is home to Walt Disney World and other tourist attractions and has grown more liberal over the past two decades.
Even some death-penalty proponents agreed that Ayala enjoys latitude regarding whether to seek death sentences.
"I understand this is a controversial issue but what isn't controversial is the evidence that led me to my decision", said Ayala, the first black State Attorney elected in Florida.
During her five-month campaign for office a year ago, Ayala never directly disclosed to voters any intention to impose, unilaterally, a moratorium on capital punishment on cases in Orange and Osceola counties, the third largest circuit in Florida.
But because of that case, Ashton said he was confident that Ayala did not oppose the death penalty.
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Zaldivar said he believes Ayala has taken up a political agenda and has failed to honor the oath she took before taking office.
"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", Warren said in a statement. Loyd is charged in the killing of police Lt. Debra Clayton, as well as Sade Dixon, who was Loyd's pregnant ex-girlfriend.
Law enforcement leaders in central Florida were also disheartened by the decision and urged Ayala to reconsider.
"To put it bluntly, law enforcement officers throughout Florida are outraged over the decision that was made in this case".
Court challenges left Florida's death penalty law on hold for much of past year, but earlier this week Scott signed a law that required jurors to unanimously recommend a death sentence, allowing prosecutors to seek that penalty once again.
Her decision infuriated a number of Republican lawmakers and elected officials, including Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi, but, coupled with Scott's reassignment of the Loyd case, may elevate Florida's already-embattled death penalty as a civil rights issue in the coming months.
Florida's governor signed legislation on Monday tightening state law to require a unanimous recommendation by a jury before judges can impose the death penalty. The murder of a police officer, he added, is an "automatic aggravator" that warrants the death penalty.
The court filing said the case is not suitable for prosecution. She acknowledged that her husband had served time in prison for drug conspiracy and counterfeiting checks years ago.