A newly-elected State Attorney in Orange-Osceola County announced today that she will not seek the death penalty in any case under her jurisdiction.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that Aramis Ayala said death penalty prosecutions are “not in the best interest of the community or the best interest of justice.”
Ayala’s announcement comes on the heels of new legislation just signed into law by the governor that requires a unanimous jury verdict to recommend a death sentence. The new bill was in response to a state Supreme Court finding last fall that the requirement of a majority recommendation during the sentencing phase was unconstitutional.
Soon after Ayala made her announcement, Gov. Rick Scott announced he was taking the h igh-profile case of Loyd Markeith, who is accused of killing Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton, away from Ayala’s office and re-assigning it to another prosecutor who will seek the death penalty.
While law enforcement officials expressed anger at Ayala’s anti-death penalty stance, the Sentinel reports that on Friday, a group of civil rights activists and religious leaders will hold a news conference outside the Orange County Courthouse in support of Ayala.
Ayala was elected SA in an August primary, and didn’t have to run in November because no Republican ran against her. She has been in office since January 3.