U.S.

Ayala's past shows no sign of death penalty concerns

Ayala's past shows no sign of death penalty concerns

In a rapid sequence of events in Orlando, Fla., on Thursday, the new state attorney there, Aramis Ayala, announced in the morning that she would not seek the death penalty in any case that comes before her office.

On Thursday, about 90 minutes before Ayala announced her decision not to pursue death penalty cases, Nunnelley filed additional papers in Spencer's case in support of the state's position that Spencer's death sentence should stand.

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".

"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. "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.

Loyd is accused of killing his girlfriend Sade Dixon (l.) and Orlando Sgt. Debra Clayton. Clayton was gunned down January 9 outside a Wal-Mart while attempting to capture Loyd.

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.

While at Tiger Bay, Ayala joked about the $1.4 million boost to her campaign.

"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.


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. That decision sparked immediate disapproval, including from Gov. Rick Scott, who has asked the prosecutor in the case to recuse herself. "Neither describe the death penalty in this state".

Loyd's case is perhaps the most high-profile case affected by Ayala's decision not to seek the death penalty.

Ayala cited numerous problems with the death penalty - on hold for more than a year statewide because of court rulings - as the rationale for her decision, which she said she reached after "extensive and painstaking thought and consideration".

"The heinous crimes that he committed in our community are the very reason that we have the death penalty as an option under the law", said Orlando Police Chief John Mina.

Scott signed an executive order saying that Ayala was making her decision "without regard" for whether aggravating factors - things that can warrant a death sentence - were present in the case. "And right now I have no confidence".

The Legislature responded by overhauling the law to let the death penalty be imposed by at least a 10-2 jury vote.

They demanded Scott take action against her, calling her "lawless" and her decision "appalling". It's remarkable among prosecutors both for the political risk it opens up for Ayala but also for the fact that this isn't even a case where there's a lot of ambiguity that causes folks to question the application of the death penalty.

I think having condemned inmates spend 20 years or more on death row while their appeals play out thwarts the argument that is a deterrent.