Special prosecutor: 'I won't make any pronouncements' about Loyd case

Death Off Table For Accused Cop Killer

Like many murder victims' families, Darlene Farah and her family found themselves caught in an unending legal process after prosecutors initially sought the death penalty for her daughter's murder. After Ayala refused, Scott has reassigned it to State Attorney Brad King. But the law does allow a governor to reassign a particular case for "good and sufficient" reasons.

Ayala's decision infuriated other state officials, including Attorney General Pam Bondi, drew harsh criticism from law-enforcement organizations and prompted some legislators to call for her ouster.

In January 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Hurst v. Florida that the state's practice of judicial override was unconstitutional. 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.

"Ending use of the death penalty in Orange County is a step toward restoring a measure of trust and integrity in our criminal justice system", she said.

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Ayala said after "extensive and painstaking thought and consideration", she determined that pursing the death penalty "is not in the best interest of this community or the best interest of justice". "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". John Mina, the city's police chief, said he had spoken with Ayala and was "extremely upset" with her decision.

The stance is significant because Orange County, where Ayala is a chief prosecutor, is among four of Florida's 67 counties that has produced more than five executions since 1976, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund said.

Ayala said she understood the reaction of both the police and victims' families, but that capital punishment is used too rarely to be effective as a deterrent to crime, that it often costs more taxpayer dollars than a life sentence, and ultimately provides little justice to families who go through years of appeals with no execution in sight.

The law enforcement community was quick to slam Ayala and praise Scott's decision to remove her from Loyd's case.

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Prominent members of law enforcement in the Orlando community also weighed in against Ayala's move. "I will do so in a way that is sensible, fair and just".

"Throughout 19 of the 20 circuits of Florida, the death penalty will continue to be sought in those cases which qualify for its implementation", the association said in a statement provided to The News Service of Florida after the vote.

Like Ayala, Warren was elected previous year as State Attorney.

Even some of Ayala's supporters said Friday they were taken aback by her decision.

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"I have seen the video of Markeith Loyd executing Lt. Debra Clayton while she lay defenseless on the ground", Mina said in a statement. Bob Cortes, R-Altamonte Springs, said they believe Ayala violated the public trust and the spirit of the state's criminal laws by not seeking to have an accused cop killer put to death. She acknowledged that her husband had served time in prison for drug conspiracy and counterfeiting checks years ago. "She didn't say, 'I'm exercising my discretion given the particular facts of this case.' She said, 'Under no circumstances do I feel it's appropriate to seek the death penalty.' That is not her role to play".

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