Monday, 26 June, 2017

Florida Prosecutor's Refusal To Seek Death Penalties Draws Political Backlash

Death Off Table For Accused Cop Killer Orlando state attorney: I won't seek death penalty. Gov. Rick Scott: You're wrong.
Craig Ferguson | 19 March, 2017, 00:08

After learning of Ayala's refusal to seek the death penalty, Demings said he urged her to think of the families and victims of Loyd's heinous crimes.

State Attorney Aramis Ayala was reassigned by the governor after announcing that she had chose to not seek the death penalty against Loyd, or any other defendants during her time in office.

Scott has broad authority under state law to reassign cases if "for any other good and sufficient reason" he feels "the ends of justice would best be served" by doing so.

The case was assigned to another prosecutor.

The Sunshine State's death penalty sentencing scheme was on unstable ground after the U.S. Supreme Court found the sentencing law unconstitutional because it allowed judges to have the ultimate decision instead of a jury.

"By choosing to seek life sentences over death, we can assure that violent offenders will never be released". Most cite recent USA and Florida Supreme Court rulings that require unanimous jury decisions in death sentences handed down since June 2002. Florida lawmakers fixed the process by requiring a 10-2 vote jury vote for the death penalty, which was struck down by the state Supreme Court.

Ayala did win praise from death penalty opponents who say that the move challenges the racial and socioeconomic disparities associated with capital punishment. "I can not, in good faith, look a victim in the face and promise that a death sentence handed down in our courts will ever result in execution".

The decision by Aramis Ayala, the state attorney for the 9th Judicial Court, was announced Thursday. She was a prosecutor in the state attorney's office for Orange and Osceola counties for about two years before she chose to seek the top job. The Fair Punishment Project called her choice "refreshing".

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.

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Similarly, state Attorney General Pam Bondi, also a Republican, said it "sends a risky message" not to seek the death penalty. "Other prosecutors would be wise to follow her lead".

The legislation was aimed at restarting death penalty cases, after questions about Florida's death penalty law during the past year brought executions to a halt.

'To put it bluntly, the law enforcement officers of Central Florida are outraged, ' said Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings at a press conference Thursday afternoon.

Echoing Scott's remarks, Orlando Police Chief John Mina said in a statement that he was "extremely upset" by Ayala's unwillingness to seek the death penalty.

"With the death penalty, he's not going to be executed for another 30 to 40 years anyway, but he's going to continue to have the opinions to drag us back in court and relive this violent, ugly act", she says. A cop killer - who also killed his pregnant girlfriend - should not be given that chance.

However, not everyone seems satisfied with Gov. Scott's decision.

Dusty Ray Spencer, who was convicted of stabbing his wife to death in 1991, is among 22 inmates from Orange and Osceola counties now awaiting lethal injection in the state's death chamber. "Also, because of Loyd's actions, we lost Deputy Norm Lewis".

Despite the severe backlash, Ayala maintains that the death penalty doesn't provide justice to victims' families, who are often dragged through years and years of court appeals.

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