Prosecutor removed from case for refusing to seek death penalty

Rafael Zaldivar is the father of Alex Zaldivar.

“One thing that I think is inhumane is to negotiate life”, she said.

Speaking to reporters Thursday about her decision not to pursue the death penalty, Ayala — the first black elected state attorney in Florida — cited research showing death sentences are not a deterrent to crime, are prohibitively costly and do a disservice to victims’ families, who may wait decades without seeing those convicted of killing their loved ones finally executed.

“She wasn’t afraid to speak the truth about how broken the death penalty is, and we’re proud to stand with her in her decision to put the resources of her office toward real safety and accountability”.

Stephanie Dixon-Daniels said Friday that having the death penalty on the table in Markeith Loyd’s case would drag out the process for her family.

The special prosecutor who took over Loyd’s case Thursday said he has not made a decision whether he will seek a death sentence.

“We affirm that the responsibility of enforcing the laws of Florida is paramount to our oath of office”, the state attorneys said in a statement.

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.

In Okafor’s case, it was 11 to 1.

In her announcement Thursday, Ayala highlighted the upheaval that has suffused Florida’s death penalty in recent years.

Earlier this year, a spokeswoman from the state attorney’s office identified six separate cases where they were seeking the death penalty, including the case of Sanel Saintsimon, who was charged in the beating death of his girlfriend’s 16-year-old daughter.

Ayala made headlines Thursday by announcing that she would not pursue the death penalty in any case, including that of Markeith Loyd, who is accused of shooting and killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend and Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton. If this were a 50-50 decision under existing law, then yes, she could decide not to go for death. “They just haven’t spoken out like she has”, Clifton said.

Ms Ayala’s comments drew condemnation from law-enforcement officials, with Orlando Police Chief John Mina saying he was “extremely upset”. Under his leadership in 2016, the state attorneys opposed a push to require juries vote unanimously on death sentences.

Meanwhile, the ACLU said it will hold a rally at 11 support Ayala, the Orange-Osceola state attorney. Loyd is also accused of the December shooting death of his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Sade Dixon.

She said Florida spends $51 million more per year holding inmates on death row than it would holding them for life without parole, and added that the average death row inmate waits 12 years between sentencing and execution. “She needs to resign since she can not do the job she took an oath to do”.

“She was given no chance to live. The money the state spends on death penalty cases can be saved to prosecute others”, McCann said.

When asked if the donations influenced her decision, she said it did not.

“It’s not a question of whether I agree with it”, he said.

“The death penalty should always be an option when an officer is murdered in the line of duty”, Haas said in the online video.

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.

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