Published: Thu, March 23, 2017
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Man accused of killing ex-girlfriend, officer won't face death penalty

Gov. Rick Scott has removed Ayala from the first-degree murder case, tapping State Attorney Brad King to take over.

Ayala's announcement came the same week Scott chose to restore the death penalty as a prosecutorial tool, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

An Orlando prosecutor says she will follow an order by Florida's governor transferring an officer-killing case out of her hands after she announced she would no longer seek the death penalty in any cases.

Buddy Jacobs, who has been general counsel for the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association for more than four decades, said no other prosecutor in recent memory has opted out of seeking the death penalty.

Florida State Attorney Aramis Ayala said the death penalty isn't an effective way to prevent crime.

But Republican state House members from the region held a hurriedly scheduled news conference Thursday morning and attacked Ayala for failing to pursue the death penalty against Loyd.

In Ayala's case, hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds - some reportedly from Soros - went right down the drain along with her position.

Amid calls from state lawmakers that the governor remove Ayala from the case or suspend her from office, Scott called for her to voluntarily step aside. Mina said the heinous crimes committed by Lloyd are a prime example of why the death penalty is an option under Florida state law.

Ayala is the State Attorney for Orange and Osceola counties.

Loyd, 41, was arrested on murder charges in the shooting deaths of Sade Dixon, his pregnant ex-girlfriend, and Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton.

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Officer Debra Clayton was fatally shot previous year.

"This prosecutor is reflecting the current American national values relating to the death penalty", he said.

"State Attorney Aramis Ayala's decision today sends a unsafe message to residents and visitors of the greater Orlando area - furthermore, it is a blatant neglect of duty and a shameful failure to follow the law as a constitutionally elected officer", Bondi said in a statement.

Ayala cited several reasons for why she will not seek the death penalty, including studies that have shown it provides no public safety benefits; it is not a deterrent, and it ends up costing the state more than cases in which the defendant is sentenced to life in prison. This is the kind of case where people who are ambivalent about the death penalty are nevertheless likely to support Loyd's execution (assuming he's found guilty).

Under Florida law, a governor can only suspend an elected official for "malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty, habitual drunkenness, incompetence, or permanent inability to perform official duties".

The struggle highlights the fault lines in Florida's fraught capital punishment system, which has been the subject of scrutiny by the U.S. Supreme Court. At the time, the law said only seven of 12 jurors needed to recommend a death sentence.

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. "If the death penalty was the ideal solution, there would not be any more murders going on".

"I have no confidence", he says.

In a statement Thursday, she praised Ayala's decision.

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