Published: Sat, March 18, 2017
U.S. | By Jeffery Vega

Prosecutors will not seek death penalty for suspect accused of killing officer


That includes the case of Markeith Loyd, accused of gunning down Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton, who was trying to capture Loyd on January 9, more than a week after he allegedly killed his ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon.

"I am required to consider policy, not an individual case".

Ayala pointed to the extensive waits that often elapse between sentences and the executions that are actually carried out, a period that can stretch for years and decades, and said: "I cannot in good faith look a victim's family in the face and promise that a death sentence handed down in our courts will ever result in execution".

Under the state's new death penalty law, a unanimous jury must recommend capital punishment.

Following her announcement, Ayala refused a demand from Republican Gov. Rick Scott that she recuse herself from Loyd's case.

Supporters of State Attorney Aramis Ayala gathered outside the Orange County Courthouse on Friday morning to commend Ayala's decision to not pursue the death penalty in any case during her tenure.

Scott then issued his executive order, reassigning the Loyd case under a rarely used state law.

King is the State Attorney for the Fifth District of Florida, just west of the Orlando area. On Monday, Scott signed a new statute that would require a unanimous recommendation by a jury prior to imposing the death penaly, but Ayala rejected that enactment.

After a discussion with Scott on Thursday afternoon, Ayala issued a statement saying she offered to have "a full conversation" about her decision, but he "declined to explore my reasoning".

Ayala said she made the decision after conducting a review and concluding that there is no evidence to show that imposing the death penalty improves public safety for citizens or law enforcement. "He declined to explore my reasoning".

Zaldivar said he believes all of the aggravators necessary to seek the death penalty in Markeith Loyd's case are present, and that he want's Loyd "six feet under".

"One thing that I think is inhumane is to negotiate life", she said. Even so, the Legislature - not state attorneys - is vested with the constitutional authority to write criminal laws.

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Ayala's unusual stance surprised angered many, including her city's police chief. However, the Constitution gives him the authority to suspend Ayala and the Florida Senate the power to remove her from office.

Political junkies might have seen it coming when billionaire George Soros, a death penalty opponent, spent more than $1 million previous year to help elect her. The ratio of African-Americans awaiting execution is more than double the percentage of blacks in the state's overall population.

Orlando's police chief says he's disappointed by a prosecutor's decision not to seek the death penalty against a suspect charged with fatally shooting a police lieutenant.

Chitwood said Loyd's disregard for human life and for someone in uniform triggers the death penalty.

That's what Ayala is doing by promising not to pursue death sentences, said Democratic Sen.

Spano serves as Chairman of the Criminal Justice Subcommittee and Vice Chairman of the Judiciary Committee of the Florida House. "It is my responsibility to make a determination whether or not this is justice for this community", she said.

Ayala's decision ignited condemnation from some law enforcement leaders. "We can't dictate to them what charges are appropriate for certain crimes".

Like Ayala, Warren was elected a year ago as State Attorney.

While Ayala faced some backlash, human rights groups praised her decision as being "smart-on-crime". "And with closure doesn't mean to be dragged in and out of court with appeals and everything else", Dixon said. One of those cases involved the murder of a police officer.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said there was wide concern among law enforcement as well, that Ayala's decision sent the wrong message.

"I'm prepared for just about anything", King said.

House Judiciary chairman Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, a former prosecutor, said Ayana was not using normal prosecutorial discretion.

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