ORLANDO, Fla. (970 WFLA, AP) — The State Attorney for Orange and Osceola Counties said the governor overstepped his bounds when he removed her from a case after she pledged to not pursue the death penalty in any cases.
Aramis Ayala filed a motion in court Monday asking a judge to allow her to present that argument in court.
“Every day State Attorneys here in Florida make important decisions on who to charge, what to charge and what to prioritize,” Ayala wrote in the motion.
“Giving the governor the tremendous and unfettered discretion to interfere in that decision making would be unprecedented and could undermine the entire justice system in Florida.”
Gov. Rick Scott removed Ayala from Markeith Loyd’s case and reassigned it to a prosecutor in a neighboring district after Ayala made her announcement against the death penalty.
When asked in Tallahassee about Ayala’s motion, Scott said he was shocked that Ayala wouldn’t seek the death penalty in Loyd’s case.
“I’m very comfortable that I made the right decision and I had the authority to do it,” Scott said.
Scott said he would “deal with it at the time” if Ayala declined to seek the death penalty in other cases.
He also did not rule out seeking her removal. “With regards to that, we’re continuing to look at our options,” he said.
The confusion over who will prosecute the case was evident Monday morning during a routine status hearing for Loyd’s case.
Both Ayala and State Attorney Brad King, the prosecutor appointed by Scott to take over the case, were in the courtroom together.
Judge Frederick Lauten scheduled a hearing for next week to hear arguments over who should handle the case.
photo credit: WFLA-TV