Orlando chief prosecutor rejects death penalty for all future cases

Death Off Table For Accused Cop Killer

Rick Scott issued an executive order Thursday to remove a state prosecutor assigned to the case of an accused cop killer because she refused to seek the death penalty.

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

On Thursday, about 90 minutes before Ayala announced her decision not to pursue death penalty cases, Nunnelley filed additional papers in Spencer's case in support of the state's position that Spencer's death sentence should stand.

"Today, I'd like to call on Gov. Scott to suspend her for this blanket refusal to use the tools that the Legislature, and signed by the governor, has given her to protect the most innocent among us and to punish these criminals that do these bad acts", said Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood. She was killed by an evil murderer who did not think twice about senselessly ending her life. "These families deserve a state attorney who will aggressively prosecute Markeith Loyd to the fullest extent of the law", said Scott, who added he was "outraged" and "sickened" by the murders Loyd is accused of.

Loyd is accused of shooting and killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon in December and Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton in January.

Clayton received word January 9 that Loyd was near a Walmart and tried to confront him.

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the state's death-sentencing scheme past year, saying Florida gave judges too much power over sentences, effectively freezing the death penalty there.

Ayala said in a statement that she would abide by the governor's choice and decline her right to appeal it. It is refreshing to see her live up to her commitments and embrace policies that achieve accountability and safety without sacrificing fairness.

King, a Republican and former Marion County sheriff's deputy, was first elected state attorney in 1988. That decision sparked immediate disapproval, including from Gov. Rick Scott, who has asked the prosecutor in the case to recuse herself.

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

Attorney General Pam Bondi said the decision not to seek the death penalty sets a bad precedent.

Ayala cited various factors [NYT report] that weighed in her decision, including the length of time between sentencing and execution, which often exceeds a decade, the costs of capital cases to the state, and the failure of the death penalty as an effective deterrent in protecting law enforcement officers.

Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc., said Ayala's "acknowledgment that the death penalty system is irreparably broken puts her at the forefront of smart-on-crime prosecutors", according to a statement.

Okafor was sentenced to death, but Zaldivar says a prosecutor told him that the State Attorney's office wouldn't be pursing the death penalty now. Every country in Europe except for Belarus has abolished the death penalty, as have Australia, Canada, Mexico and most of South and Central America.

"Let me be very clear, however", said Ayala, who was elected last Fall.

Even some of Ayala's supporters said Friday they were taken aback by her decision. "My office will thoroughly and painstakingly evaluate each capital offense and seek the death penalty only in the rare cases that are so heinous, atrocious, and undeserving of mercy as to be considered the worst of the worst in our society".

"I didn't have to worry about going through hearings or hearing the stories over and over again of what had happened to Jeff", said Marino.

Following Hurst, Florida still permitted death sentences by non-unanimous jury vote, requiring at least 10 votes rather than 12.

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