Prosecutor removed from case for refusing to seek death penalty

19 March, 2017, 00:10 | Author: Michele Stevens
  • OPD’s John Mina reacts State Attorney will not seek death penalty for Markeith Loyd

"Earlier today, I called on State Attorney Ayala to immediately recuse herself from this case", Scott said in a statement.

Ayala was instantly criticized by the law enforcement community leaders in Florida because her decision means that capital punishment would not be pursued in the case of Markeith Loyd, who was arrested in January on charges of fatally shooting Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton on Jan. 9.

Scott has broad authority under state law to reassign cases if "for any other good and sufficient reason" he feels "the ends of justice would best be served" by doing so.

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.

Loyd is accused of killing his girlfriend Sade Dixon (l.) and Orlando Sgt. Debra Clayton.

"My closure will be when Markeith Loyd is six-feet under", Seth Clayton, the widower of Lt. Debra Clayton, told Orlando's deputy police chief Thursday, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

If we're going to have the death penalty, then cop killers go to the head of the list. It is refreshing to see her live up to her commitments and embrace policies that achieve accountability and safety without sacrificing fairness.

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said that Ayala contacted him Wednesday, and while he said "it is her decision to make", he also hoped she would reconsider. If she does not, I will ask Governor Rick Scott to appoint a special prosecutor, not only in my son's case, but for every pending case in the ninth district.

Florida's death penalty has run in to what has been called a chaotic situation.

Aramis Ayala, state attorney in Orlando and Osceola counties, announced she would not consider the death penalty against anyone charged with first-degree murder.

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Ayala had previously announced on Thursday morning that she would not be seeking the death penalty against Loyd or anyone else. In a statement, Orlando Police Chief John Mina applauded the governor's "willingness to stand with law enforcement and with the families and loved ones of murder victims".

To that, the man she beat in last year's election reacted this way: "It was something I had feared".

State law gives state attorneys broad discretion to determine how best to pursue each case, including whether or not to seek the death penalty.

Ayala's decision comes just days after Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill requiring a unanimous jury recommendation before the death penalty can be imposed. "And right now I have no confidence". 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.

Scott responded by accusing Ayala of refusing to "fight for justice" for Clayton's family.

They demanded Scott take action against her, calling her "lawless" and her decision "appalling".

"Upon receipt of any lawful order, my office will follow that order and fully cooperate to ensure the successful prosecution of Markeith Loyd", Ayala said.

"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", Mina said.

Despite the severe backlash, Ayala maintains that the death penalty doesn't provide justice to victims' families, who are often dragged through years and years of court appeals.

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