Fla. prosecutor removed from cop-killing case over death penalty decision

OPD Chief Mina'extremely upset about decision not to seek death penalty in Markeith Loyd case

Bondi, whose office represents the state in death-penalty cases before the Florida Supreme Court, also criticized the local prosecutor.

In making her announcement, Ayala referenced a bill passed Tuesday that will require a unanimous jury recommendation before the death penalty can be imposed.

In the Capitol, Republican lawmakers gathered Thursday morning to condemn Ayala, who in November became the first African-American elected state attorney in the state of Florida. He is charged with killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend and Lt. Debra Clayton.

Florida's governor has reassigned a case involving the killing of an Orlando police officer after a prosecutor said she would not seek the death penalty.

Instead of State Attorney Aramis Ayala of Orange County's 9 Judicial Circuit Court handling the first-degree murder probe, State Attorney Brad King will be taking on the case instead after Ayala refused to recuse herself, per a release from Scott's office.

Loyd is accused of killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon last December.

Ayala didn't run on an anti-death penalty platform when she campaigned, since at the time Florida's death penalty law was in question after the U.S. Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional.

State Attorney Aramis Ayala on Thursday said she had chose to no longer seek the death penalty in first-degree murder cases after conducting a review.

"I began to do the research, and I was like, 'Hey, I appreciate it, '" Ayala said.

She argued that evidence showed the death penalty was overly expensive, slow, inhumane and did not increase public safety.

WESH 2 News cameras were rolling last month when State Attorney Aramis Ayala was asked about the death penalty policy her office was developing. "That's Florida's second death penalty statute in less than two years".

The U.S. Supreme Court decided past year to strike down the Florida's death penalty statute, claiming it violated the Sixth Amendment by giving judges, not juries, the final decision to impose capital punishment. Most cite recent USA and Florida Supreme Court rulings that require unanimous jury decisions in death sentences handed down since June 2002.

"Unfortunately, I haven't been given the time since taking office, and some very serious things happening, to develop that", Ayala said on February 23.

But Adora Obi Nweze, president Florida State Conference NAACP, said it was a step in the right direction.

"Florida's death penalty has been the cause of considerable legal chaos, uncertainty and turmoil, ' said Ayala, adding that the practice gives victims" families false hope.

Ayala, who as recently as February suggested that she was undecided on whether to pursue the death penalty for Loyd called her decision the most important one she has made as a prosecutor.

'She informed me this afternoon that she refuses to do that.

"Spencer's successive post conviction motion is without merit and summary denial is appropriate", Assistant State Attorney Kenneth Nunnelley and Senior Assistant Attorney General Scott Browne wrote in a March 1 motion opposing Spencer's attempt to vacate his death sentence.

Ayala told reporters that she understands that members of the law enforcement community may be upset. 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). "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".

The county is also among 10 Florida counties that together account for half the state's death row population, the organization said.

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