Orlando chief prosecutor rejects death penalty for all future cases


That law (SB 280) requires that Florida juries vote unanimously to sentence someone to death and gave prosecutors the green light to again pursue capital punishment following court decisions that found the state's existing sentencing rules unconstitutional.

Under Florida law, aggravating factors include whether the victim of a capital felony "was a law enforcement officer engaged in the performance of his or her official duties" and whether the felony "was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel".

Scott said in a statement that Ayala's decision "made it clear that she will not fight for justice and that is why I am using my executive authority to immediately reassign the case to State Attorney Brad King".

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.

"Some victims will support and some will surely oppose my decision", she said. She also said it was more expensive to put someone on death row rather than put them in jail for life and that the endless appeals of death row inmates can actually prevent victim's families from achieving closure. "He declined to explore my reasoning".

Ayala's decision caused outrage in Florida, especially from Orlando Police Chief John Mine.

Scott can not unilaterally kick a constitutional officer like Ayala out of office.

Ayala released a statement on Thursday saying she would abide by Scott's order.

WESH 2's research of law review articles from Ayala's law school, articles that she has written for the local and national bar associations and her syllabus from a class that she taught at FAMU reveal no prior opinions of any kind about capital punishment, leaving some to wonder exactly when she chose to oppose it.

"The state of Florida has charged you with these offenses, not the court", Lauten explained.

Florida is one of 32 states that is authorized to use the death penalty. In a Facebook post, he says not going after the death penalty appalling and reprehensible.

Either way, Zaldivar says he wants Ayala off the case.

Even some death-penalty proponents agreed that Ayala enjoys latitude regarding whether to seek death sentences.

Charges of acting as accessories after the fact against Zarghee Mayan and Jameis Slaughter were dropped, according to a review of an Orange County court docket. She acknowledged that her husband had served time in prison for drug conspiracy and counterfeiting checks years ago.

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the state's death-sentencing scheme previous year, saying Florida gave judges too much power over sentences, effectively freezing the death penalty there.

"Today's announcement is on the right side of history as momentum against the death penalty in the United States continues to build", Margaret Huang, the executive director of Amnesty International USA, said in a statement.

He also announced his intention to look into whether the state attorney's decision is a possible violation of public integrity. Every country in Europe except for Belarus has abolished the death penalty, as have Australia, Canada, Mexico and most of South and Central America.

Ayala's decision could play into any future political aspirations.

"I'm not a puppet for anyone", Ayala said.

Ayala's decision "goes beyond prosecutorial discretion and into the realm of dereliction of duty", said House Judiciary Chairman Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, a former prosecutor in line to become speaker of the chamber in 2020.