Florida's Republican governor on Monday took 21 more first-degree murder cases away from a Democratic prosecutor who has said she will no longer seek the death penalty.
Gov. Rick Scott gave the cases being handled by Orlando-area State Atty. Aramis Ayala to neighboring State Atty. Brad King.
Ayala has come under fire recently after announcing she wouldn't seek the death penalty against Markeith Loyd or any other defendant. Loyd is charged with killing an Orlando police lieutenant and his pregnant former girlfriend this year. Scott took the Loyd case away from Ayala last month and reassigned it to King.
“If you look at these cases, they are horrendous cases,” Scott told the Associated Press. “And so I'm going to continue to think about the families, and that's how I made my decision today.”
In a statement, Scott added that “Ayala's complete refusal to consider capital punishment for the entirety of her term sends an unacceptable message that she is not interested in considering every available option in the fight for justice.”
Ayala's spokeswoman said Scott never notified her office about his order and that the prosecutor learned about it through the news media.
“Ms. Ayala remains steadfast in her position the governor is abusing his authority and has compromised the independence and integrity of the criminal justice system,” Eryka Washington said.
Ayala has said she plans to ask the Florida Supreme Court to overturn the governor's action stripping her of the Loyd case.
Ayala's decision to no longer seek the death penalty for defendants has stirred strong opinions. Civil rights groups and faith groups have praised her, while many Republicans lawmakers and law enforcement have criticized her.
SOURCE: LA TIMES