Florida Governor Replaces Markeith Loyd Prosecutor Over Death Penalty Protest

"I have seen the video of Markeith Loyd executing Lt. Debra Clayton while she lay defenseless on the ground", Mina said.

Markeith Loyd is accused of the shooting deaths of his ex-girlfriend in December and Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton in January. Randolph Bracy, who represents the northwest corner of Orange County and chairs the Senate's Criminal Justice Committee.

Advocates seeking to abolish the death penalty said Ayala sent a powerful message.

Gualtieri says there may be cases that aren't cut and dry. "These families deserve a state attorney who will aggressively prosecute Markeith Loyd to the fullest extent of the law", said Scott, who added he was "outraged" and "sickened" by the murders Loyd is accused of.

Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams also issued statement that said in part, "I want to acknowledge Governor Rick Scott for his swift action in addressing this matter by reassigning the case to another circuit". Florida law allows a governor to reassign a case for "good and sufficient" reasons.

Rev. Dr. Russell L. Meyer, Executive DirectorFlorida Council of Churches said, "I applaud State Attorney Ayala's announcement to no longer seek the death penalty". "We make the laws as it relates to sentencing, but the state attorneys have a role". The governor recently signed into law a requirement that juries be unanimous when recommending the death penalty. 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. "I can not 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".

Loyd's case is the most visible one affected by State Attorney Aramis Ayala's decision.

"I don't think it's appropriate to say that there is never a time to use the death penalty", Dyer said. The Fair Punishment Project called her choice "refreshing".

"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. Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican who is a former prosecutor, told The News Service of Florida on Thursday.

Ayala drew equally fierce condemnation from supporters of the death penalty, a group that included Attorney General Pam Bondi, whose office has defended the state's death-sentencing statutes.

Ayala gained notoriety a year ago when she unseated an incumbent state attorney with hundreds of thousands of dollars in funds - some reportedly traced to reclusive billionaire George Soros.

The decision immediately drew condemnation from the law enforcement community and Florida politicians.

Orlando Police Chief John Mina.

But Adora Obi Nweze of the Florida state conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said it was a step in the right direction.

"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, disgusting act", she says.

On Tuesday, Gov. Scott signed a new capital punishment bill that had been tailored to get passed the Supreme Court's ruling.

State attorneys, which ensure that laws are properly interpreted and enforced, have wide discretion on who they charge with a crime, what charge to file and what penalty to seek, according to the Orlando Sentinel. "Also, because of Loyd's actions, we lost Deputy Norm Lewis".

  • Annette Adams