TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida’s Republican governor on Monday took 21 more first-degree murder cases away from a reluctant Democratic prosecutor. She has said she will no longer seek the death penalty.
Governor takes action
Gov. Rick Scott gave the cases being handled by Orlando-area State Attorney Aramis Ayala to neighboring judicial circuit State Attorney Brad King, reported Fox News.
Ayala announced she wouldn’t seek the death penalty against accused cop-killer, Markeith Loyd or any other defendant as well. She has been heavily criticized as a result.
Loyd has been charged with killing an Orlando police lieutenant. Furthermore, he has also been accused of killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend. Scott took the Loyd case away from Ayala last month and reassigned it to King.
“If you look at these cases they are horrendous cases,” Scott told The Associated Press. “And so I’m going to continue to think about the families and that’s how I made my decision today.”
In a statement, Scott said, “Ayala’s complete refusal to consider capital punishment for the entirety of her term sends an unacceptable message that she is not interested in considering every available option in the fight for justice.”
Consequently, Ayala’s spokeswoman said Scott did not notify her of his intentions. Rather, she learned about it through the news media.
“Ms. Ayala remains steadfast in her position the Governor is abusing his authority and has compromised the independence and integrity of the criminal justice system,” said Eryka Washington.
As a result, Ayala said she intends to seek a decision from the Supreme Court to overturn the governor’s action stripping her of the Loyd case.
Others weigh in
Moreover, Ayala’s decision to no longer seek the death penalty for defendants has stirred strong opinions. Civil rights groups and some faith groups have praised her. Hence, many Republican lawmakers and police officers have criticized her, according to Fox News.
In particular is Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings. He said regardless of her position on the death penalty, Ayala needs to follow the law.
“Whenever decisions are made regarding the prosecution of individuals, the prosecutor must take into consideration the will and the desire of the victim’s survivors,” he said.
Yet, Democratic state Rep. Sean Shaw of Tampa called Scott’s actions a “gross abuse of his power.”
“The governor is attempting to set dangerous precedent that would destroy the idea of independence for state attorneys throughout Florida who must now fear political retribution by the state’s most powerful politician if they make a decision he disagrees with,” Shaw said in a news release.