TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Gov. Rick Scott said Thursday he is reassigning the Markeith Loyd murder case after the State Attorney said she wouldn't seek the death penalty against Loyd.
State Attorney Aramis Ayala said earlier Thursday she wouldn't seek capital punishment against the accused copy killer. Scott immediately joined state Attorney General Pam Bondi and Orlando Police Chief John Mina in voicing their opposition to Ayala's decision.
In a statement, Gov. Scott said, “Earlier (Thursday), I called on State Attorney Ayala to immediately recuse herself from this case. She informed me this afternoon that she refuses to do that. She has 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."
WKMG spoke with King on Thursday. He said he would not comment on Ayala’s decision to not seek the death penalty, but that he plans to seek justice for the victims.
He told WKMG that Scott asked him personally to take the case, and he agreed.
King said he has sent about a dozen people to the state's death row.
Earlier in the day Gov. Scott wrote on Twitter that Ayala must recuse herself from the case "immediately," following statements she made at a press conference in Orlando explaining her reasoning behind the decision. She said that she would not seek any death penalty cases that come to her office.
"I completely disagree with State Attorney Ayala's decision... She has made it abundantly clear she will not fight for justice for Lt. Debra Clayton and our law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every day," Scott wrote.
Just prior to Scott's statement, Bondi issued her statement which said that Ayala's is neglecting her duty and that her choice "sends a dangerous message to residents and visitors of the greater Orlando area. It is a blatant neglect of duty and a shameful failure to follow the law as a constitutionally elected office."
Ayala's decision not to prosecute Loyd as a death penalty case could have meant he would face a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole. Ayala said there is no evidence of improved public safety for citizens or law enforcement with the death penalty, and that such cases are costly and drag on for years.
On Wednesday night, Orlando Police Chief John Mina said that he was "extremely upset" that the state attorney's office will not seek the death penalty for Loyd, who is accused of killing Lt. Debra Clayton and his ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon.
Vote at the 10News online poll at this link to have your say on whether prosecutors should seek the death penalty in the Loyd case.